Civil Procedure Rules as a Litigant in Person | Davis Blank Furniss
Rebecca Taylor

The answer is yes.  The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) apply to all parties – including litigants in person.

By way of an example, the Supreme Court has held that there is a very high threshold to excuse claimants (including litigants in person) from the strict rules for service of legal proceedings.

The claimant, acting in person, issued a legal proceedings alleging negligence against his former solicitors on 25 February 2013.

He elected to serve the Claim Form himself. He emailed the Claim Form to the defendant on 24 June 2013 (within the four month period of validity of the Claim Form).

On 4 July 2013, the solicitors said that they had not provided prior agreement to accept service by email. By that time, the claim was statute barred (i.e. the time limit to serve the Claim Form had been exceeded).

The claimant asked the court to exercise its discretion and make an order that the method of service used was good service, even though it was not otherwise permitted by the rules. A District Judge, a Circuit Judge and the Court of Appeal rejected that argument, so the claimant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument by a majority of 3:2. Their Lordships found that being a litigant in person does not excuse compliance with the rules. Lord Sumption, in his leading judgment, set out why there was no “good reason” to validate service in that case:

  • The rules and Practice Directions are accessible (on the internet) and are clear and not obscure;
  • The claimant was an experienced litigant;
  • The claimant made no attempt to check the rules and left service until the last minute; and
  • The defendant would be deprived of a limitation defence if the claimant was excused for their conduct, which was serious.

In that case, the claimant was given less leeway because they were an experienced litigant and reckless about the rules. If a litigant in person is referred to the CPR at an early stage and does comply with the rules then this could lead a court to having just as little sympathy should service not properly be effected.

Although, this case dealt with service of a Claim Form, the principle is applicable to other rules of the CPR. It is therefore essential that litigants in person make themselves aware of the CPR. If you need any advice or would like our assistance with drafting Court documents and/or serving them and/or aspects of the CPR, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our Dispute Resolution team.

Case: Barton v Wright Hassall LLP [2018] UKSC 12 (Bailii).

For more information about Rebecca and her work, please click HERE.


Read what our clients have to say...

View All

Excellent experience start to finish – always very responsive to any queries and the turnaround on the property I was buying was very quick, even in the busy time leading up to stamp duty deadline. Jenny was always very helpful and went above and beyond to close on a short timescale.

Ben Armitage

“Very approachable, practical solutions to problems, but most of all very responsive which I personally think is very important because if you need help, you need it quickly, or at least to know someone is looking at it for you”.

Joanne Rowe, Finance Director, Greater Manchester Chamber

“Always able to contact, very approachable, friendly and professional”

Nives Feely, JAM Recruitment

“I believe I have been able to establish a professional working relationship with everyone I have come into contact. Importantly, I sense the relationships which have been established give me the confidence that I can make contact with Davis Blank Furniss at any time and on any matter. I would also like to express my thanks to the very impressive “gatekeepers” who work in reception, not only for making me very welcome, but also for their professionalism”

Bill Pryke, CEO, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors

“Thank you for your efficient and friendly help throughout this process. We have had it easy but your approach has been part of that”.

Robert Amsbury (Conveyancing Client)

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for the ongoing support and assistance the firm has offered to our parents over the years. I hope also that we may be able to call on you if necessary in the future.”

Valerie Fisher (Probate Client)

“Jo always provides great service, understands our needs and delivers on her promises. Our needs are relatively simple but the complexity arises out of the volume of work and short time frames, Jo always delivers.”

Peter Fernandez, Corporate Director at Royal Bank of Scotland

“A big thank you to all who dealt with my wife’s claim… We would not hesitate to recommend Davis Blank Furniss to anyone that may be in a situation like we have been…”

Anon (Personal Injury client)

“Before putting my case in Kirsty (Morbey)’s capable hands I’ve met a couple of other solicitors. None of them listen to me as intently as Kirsty and showed me as much empathy and understanding as she did. Simultaneously she was able to look at my case from legal perspective, explain all the options and follow each of our meetings with written summary of the discussed matters (in timely manner). Her advice was invaluable and led me to successfully ending the case matter (hopeful for good). I’m forever grateful for he work and would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for reliable, knowledgeable and committed solicitor”.

Anon (Family client)
5 star service

Our Manchester office is rated 5 stars on Google