What is a Litigation Friend?

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Carrie Tennick, April 19, 2021

Anyone could end up involved in legal action. But not everyone is capable of managing a case.

This is why the law has made it possible to appoint a litigation friend.

A litigation friend will make decisions about a legal case on behalf of someone who is not able to. This could be a child or an adult who lacks the capacity to manage their case.

They can be appointed to deal with civil cases – including personal injury claims – as well as family law cases or Court of Protection cases.

This person must be capable and should try to get the best outcome for the individual they are acting for. Their case could rest in their litigation friend’s hands.

What is a litigation friend?

According to the Ministry of Justice, a protected party is someone “who lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings”. This means they can’t manage their legal affairs. This could be because they are seriously ill, are dealing with a mental illness or have suffered a brain injury.

Meanwhile, children can’t use solicitors for injury claims or make decisions relating to legal cases.

A litigation friend will take over the case for a child or a protected party and make any necessary decisions.

They will have to manage certain aspects of legal cases, including attending court hearings and meeting with solicitors. If possible, they should also give updates to the person they are acting for to find out their wishes and feelings about what is happening.

If any decisions have to be made – like whether or not to accept a compensation amount in an injury claim – the litigation friend will have to make them. They’ll also have to pay any costs ordered by the court.

You’ll be able to apply to the court to have any expenses you’ve had as a litigation friend paid back to you. According to the government, “this can include the premium for a court costs insurance policy or the interest on a loan taken out to pay for a costs insurance policy”.

Make a personal injury claim here

To become a litigation friend, you’ll need to apply. You can do this by filling in a certificate of suitability. You may also be able to act as a litigation friend if you’ve been appointed as someone’s deputy – which allows you to make decisions on their behalf.

When making a claim, the court will have to approve any compensation settlement agreed by a litigation friend. This doesn’t happen when claiming for yourself. Other than that, the process of making a claim as a litigation friend is as straightforward as claiming yourself.

Who can be appointed a litigation friend?

The court could appoint anyone to act as a litigation friend. It is common for the following people to act as litigation friends:

  • Court of Protection deputy
  • Parent or guardian
  • Professional advocate
  • Relative or close friend
  • Solicitor
  • Someone with lasting power of attorney

To become a litigation friend, you’ll need to act fairly and in the best interests of the person you’re acting for. The court will have to make sure there is no conflict of interest between you and who you’re representing. They’ll also have to check that you can act competently and objectively.

If there are no suitable or willing individuals to become a litigation friend, the Official Solicitor can take on the responsibility. This is usually a last resort.

When you’re acting for a child, you’ll stop being a litigation friend when they turn 18. This happens whether their case has come to an end or not.

For a protected party adult, you’ll stop when the case ends or if they recover and regain capacity. If you or someone else applies to the court for a replacement litigation friend, you’ll also stop. But there will need to be valid reasons for a replacement.

How to help

If you need help making a claim on behalf of someone else, we could guide you through the process. To talk to our understanding and compassionate team of advisors, just give us a call or start your claim online.

We’re here to help you when you’re helping someone else.

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