In England and Wales, anyone under the age of 18 is usually classed as a minor in terms of legality. A minor can’t bring a claim for compensation themselves, although a responsible adult may act as their ‘litigation friend’ and bring a claim on behalf of the child.
When bringing claims on behalf of a minor, the key consideration is always to have the minor’s best interests in mind. The important thing to know though it that the answer to the question in the title of this article is “yes” – a child, with a litigation friend, can bring a claim. So, read on for more information about how it works.
Who can be a litigation friend?
- A parent or a guardian (this is the most common);
- A trusted family member or friend;
- A solicitor;
- A professional advocate;
- A court of protection deputy;
- Someone with power of attorney.
Particularly with the first two options, the litigation friend cannot have a conflict of interest with the minor. This person needs to be able to make decisions in a fair and competent way. A certificate of suitability will normally have to be filled out to confirm a litigation friend’s status, or a court order appointing a deputy.
The suitability of a litigation friend
The litigation friend must be approved by the court to check their suitability. The Judge at the Court will usually assess whether it’s in the child’s best interest for the compensation claim to be settled. Only when permission is received can a claim usually be settled.
A litigation friend is only needed to bring a claim for compensation on behalf of child up until the child’s 18th birthday. After then, the young adult will be able to bring a compensation claim themselves.
What are the key differences in a child claim?
Mainly, it’s about the litigation friend taking instructions on behalf of the minor and keeping on top of the case matters with the appointed law firm. The other big thing is that the case will normally have to be presented to a judge who can put their seal of approval on any provisional amount agreed between the parties. A child cannot legally accept an amount of compensation, and neither can the litigation friend in most circumstances. It’s down to the independent judge to conform they’re happy with the provisional amount agreed.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.