You may not be surprised to hear that the number of litigants in person ("LiPs") has increased over recent years, as a result of which, solicitors are under ever increasing pressure to ensure that there is a level playing field where their opponent is an LiP. This has meant having to take reasonable steps to ensure that LiPs are not prejudiced by their lack of legal experience by referring them to the relevant Part of the Civil Procedure Rules, as well as communicating as clearly as possible whilst resisting the use of legal jargon.
However, last year the Government launched a consultation about how lawyers should deal with LiPs going forward and suggested reforms. The results are yet to be published, but lawyers have been put on notice that changes are likely to be implemented as soon as 6 April 2019, subject to parliamentary approval.
The main change is that lawyers will likely be under a duty to keep LiPs informed. Part 39 of the Civil Procedure Rules will be amended to impose a duty on lawyers to copy LiPs into correspondence with the court, otherwise risk having their correspondence rejected without being considered. It is suggested that lawyers will not have to copy LiPs into correspondence where there is a"compelling reason" but what that means exactly remains to be seen.
Watch this space!