Certain individuals are not deemed under law to have the ability to bring or defend a claim in the court by themselves. This applies to two categories of person: children and protected parties.
* A child is defined as any person under the age of 18
* Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 a protected party means a party, or an intended party, who lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings
So, if someone falls into one of these categories, what can we do to make sure they can bring a claim and get the damages they are entitled to?
In this scenario we can nominate somebody called a ‘litigation friend’ to act as a competent representative for the party and to make decisions on the behalf of the party.
So who would fulfil the role?
It would usually be appropriate for the person who takes on the role of litigation friend to be someone who already has a close relationship with the child or protected party. They will have to have their suitability to act confirmed by the court and should act in the best interests of the child or protected party. A litigation friend should obviously not have a conflict of interest with the party they would be representing and so for a child it would usually be appropriate for a parent to take on the responsibility.
Does having a litigation friend affect the way the claim is run?
No, the claim will still be run in the same way, however if the claim is settled before litigation at court then the court will have to approve any settlement at an approval hearing.