If you decide to make a personal injury claim after your accident, there is a chance your claim could end up in court. In a court case, the claimant or defendant (the litigant) is legally allowed to represent themselves in court and a lawyer is not essential. However, the claimant is allowed to ask if they can bring a non-legally qualified adviser to court with them, or to request that this person be allowed to represent them in court. What do we call these representatives and advisers? Litigation friends.
What is a litigation friend?
If you are not using the services of a lawyer, then you are a Litigant in Person (LIP). You are able to request a litigation friend if the cost of hiring a lawyer is too expensive, or if this is your personal preference. In the cases of vulnerable people (for example under 18s and those with a mental health disability), a litigation friend is common.
There are two types of litigation friend:
McKenzie Friend – this person does not need to be an actual friend, and they will usually have training in or knowledge of law. They are allowed to:
- Provide moral support
- Help organise case paperwork
- Take notes
- Give discreet advice to the LIP regarding legal procedure and so on
- Question any witnesses or address the court
- Act on the LIP’s behalf
- Manage the case outside the court/act as the LIP’s agent
Whilst you have no legal right to a McKenzie Friend, the court usually allows it, but you must write to them in advance to advise you would like assistance.
Lay Representative – this is a person with no legal qualifications who can accompany you in court. They can:
- Present the case to the court on your behalf (but you must be present when this happens)
- They could be a spouse, partner, colleague or friend.
If you are a protected person who is making a personal injury claim which ends up in court, you will normally need to complete a Certificate of Suitability of Litigation Friend form, to ensure that the person accompanying you is suitable.
Do I have to go to court to get compensation?
The good news is that most claims with Accident Advice Helpline never end up in court and we can process the majority of claims in full over the phone. You can get in touch with us to find out more about the claims process and whether you’re eligible to claim compensation after your accident by calling us on 0800 689 5659.