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Advocates reminded of duties to litigants in person

Peter Jackson J highlights risk of unfairness from late service

Mr Justice Peter Jackson has reminded practitioners of their obligations to litigants in person when preparing for trial.

His judgment in Re B (Litigants In Person: Timely Service of Documents) [2016] EWHC 2365 (Fam), published with the approval of the President of the Family Division, arose from a final hearing in a child abduction case in which counsel for the father served legal documents comprising counsel's position statement (14 pages) and four law reports (100 pages) at the door of the court on the mother, a non-English-speaking litigant in person. Whilst Peter Jackson J acknowledges that the position statement was of real assistance to the court, time was wasted before the hearing while the mother studied the documents with the help of the court-appointed interpreter.

Referring to the words of Thorpe LJ and Munby LJ  in Re K (A Child) [2010] EWCA Civ 1546, Peter Jackson J reminds practitioners  of the obligations imposed by PD 27A concerning court bundles and, in particular, paragraph 6. He notes that para 6 sets out the minimum service requirements and that they should be adapted in individual cases to protect the rights of LIPs in order to prevent the intrinsic unfairness to LIPs that may arise from late service.