Dispute Resolution

What is a Litigation Friend?

A litigation friend is someone who helps a child under 18, or an adult who lacks mental capacity (known as a Protected Party) in making a compensation claim.

13 May 2024

Team name
Shah Al Hoque

Shah Al Hoque

Children under 18 aren’t allowed to use solicitors to make a claim or make legal decisions about claims.  A Protected Party is an adult who can’t manage their own affairs, due to injury, illness or lacking mental capacity to make their own decisions.  In these cases, a litigation friend would assist them in making claims on their behalf.

Who Can Be A Litigation Friend?

Litigation friends are usually parents, relatives, guardians or carers of the minor or the protected party but can technically be anyone so long as they can fulfil the role competently and fairly (even a friend).  The court will check to ensure you are suitable and if your application is approved, the court will appoint you as soon as the case has started or at any time during the case.

When there’s no one suitable, willing, or able to be a litigation friend for a claimant, the court can ask the Official Solicitor to step in.  The Official Solicitor is a government body that assists children and people who lack mental capacity with legal issues.

Responsibilities Of A Litigation Friend

A litigation friend is entrusted to direct the proceedings on behalf of the claimant and can assist in civil cases (excluding tribunals), family cases, or a court of protection case.

When assisting a minor or protected party in a claim, a litigation friend must constantly have that person’s best interests in mind when faced with making a decision. They must never base a decision on their own interests. Failure to carry out their duties can lead to the court replacing the litigation friend.

A litigation friend may need to assist with the following:

  • Make decisions in the claimants’ best interests.
  • Keeping the claimants updated on their case and finding out their wishes and feelings if possible.
  • Communicate with the claimant’s solicitor and obtain legal advice.
  • Attend court and pay any costs.

M&P Commentary

Shah Al Hoque, Trainee Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team, said:

“A litigation friend plays a massive role for under-18s and Protected Parties who wish to bring a claim. It’s important that the most suitable litigation friend is chosen. The process to become a litigation friend can be a complex one but rest assured, Mullis and Peake LLP can assist you in the process of filling out the necessary forms to apply to become a litigation friend. Once you have been appointed, our solicitors in the Family Team, Dispute Resolution Team or Court of Protection Team can provide further assistance in acting for the claimant and working with their litigation friend in their claim against the relevant party.”

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