LITIGANTS IN PERSON – FAMILY DIVISION GUIDANCE

“The Rules

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.”

Kerry Underwood

In Re B (Litigants in Person: Timely Service of Documents) [2016] EWHC 2365 (Fam)

Mr Justice Peter Jackson:

  1. This judgment, published with the approval of the President of the Family Division, arises from a recent final hearing in a child abduction case in which legal documents – counsel’s position statement (14 pages) and four law reports (100 pages) – were given at the door of the court to a non-English-speaking litigant in person (LIP). This is unfortunately not an unusual occurrence, and it calls for a remedy.

Summary

  1. Where one party is represented and the other is a LIP, the court should normally direct as a matter of course that the Practice Direction documents under PD27A are to be served on the LIP at least three days before the final hearing, especially where the LIP is not fluent in English. The method of service, usually email, should be specified…

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