LITIGANTS IN PERSON AND CASE MANAGEMENT: TIMELY SERVICE OF DOCUMENTS – DRAWING FROM THE FAMILY DIVISION

“PD 27A is concerned with court bundles in the Family Division and the Family Court. It sets out the basic requirements, but importantly it makes clear at 2.1 that these are subject to specific directions in any particular case. Under paragraph 6:
The party preparing the bundle must provide a paginated index to all other parties not less than 4 working days before the hearing
Where counsel is instructed, s/he must have a paginated bundle not less than 3 working days before the hearing
The bundle (with the exception of the preliminary documents, known as Practice Direction documents) must be lodged with the court not less than 2 working days before the hearing
The PD documents must be lodged with the court no later than 11 am on the day before the hearing. The rule does not provide for service on the other parties, but the implication must be that the document will be sent to them no later than that.
These are minimum service requirements that should be adapted in individual cases to protect the rights of LIPs. The need for earlier preparation and service places obligations on advocates and those who instruct them, but that is necessary to prevent the intrinsic unfairness to LIPs that may arise from late service.”

Civil Litigation Brief

Recent cases have made it clear that litigants in person do not have any special status during the conduct of litigation. However it is equally clear that, when making case management decisions, the court has to have regard to the fact that a party is unrepresented.  Here we look at the rules relating to case management when litigants in person are involved and recent guidance from the Family Division, much of which could (and possibly will) be applied in the civil courts.

“It is obvious that the right to a fair trial includes the right to know the case one has to meet. Court hearings are already difficult for LIPs, but many, being inexperienced, are hesitant to complain about matters such as late service”

THE RULES

The rules specifically state that the court must consider the fact that a party is unrepresented when exercising case management power.

“Case management…

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