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Skeleton arguments, appeals and litigants in person: guidance to counsel

Court of Appeal sets out approach to be adopted by counsel who take on appeal

In a supplemental judgment to S (A Child) [2015] EWCA Civ 1015, Jackson LJ set out the proper approach to be followed by counsel who takes on an appeal case where a litigant in person has drafted a skeleton argument in their own words. 

In this case, the father had filed a 20 page skeleton argument.  Thereafter, counsel prepared her own skeleton argument, which was described as "supplemental" to the father's.  The result was that the court had two parallel skeleton arguments covering the same ground in different ways, which was not satisfactory.

The proper course is for counsel to prepare a single composite skeleton argument which incorporates all the submissions which will be advanced.  Counsel will need permission to file and serve a substituted skeleton argument in place of that originally drafted by the litigant in person – where a well-qualified advocate is instructed to represent someone who has hitherto been acting in person, such permission is likely to be granted.

The judgment and summary by Ariel Ricci of Coram Chambers are here.

19/10/15