Beware litigants in person!

Ken Stangoe | Mar 2018

A recent Supreme Court decision has confirmed that those acting on their own behalf will not be treated leniently where there has been a failure to comply with the Court’s procedural rules. Ken Stangoe, Head of Dispute Resolution & Litigation explains further.

The Supreme Court heard the case of Barton v Wright Hassall LLP in February of this year. Mr Barton sought to sue Wright Hassall LLP and issued a claim in February 2013. He acted as a litigant in person and informed the Court that he wished to serve the claim form himself. Having 4 months to serve the claim form, the expiry date being 25 June 2013, Mr Barton served Wright Hassall LLP by email on 24 June 2013.

Wright Hassall responded on 4 July 2013 to say that they had not agreed to accept service by email, would not be acknowledging service of the claim and, therefore, the claim was now statute barred.

Mr Barton applied to the court to validate service of his claim retrospectively and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the Court found that Mr Barton had not successfully brought the claim to the attention of Wright Hassall LLP and had not demonstrated that there was no other way he could have served the claim form on Wright Hassall LLP within the validity period. Further, Lord Sumption held that “there is no reason why Mr Barton should be absolved from his errors at Wright Hassall’s expense.”

If you are considering bringing or defending a claim as a litigant in person you must be aware of the strict court deadlines and requirements set out in the Civil Procedure Rules. For further advice contact Ken Stangoe on 01908 689307 or email

Ken Stangoe

Ken Stangoe | Partner

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