Are Litigants Better Served by Mediation?
BY JOHN HYDE
In a recent case, Judge Paul Matthews stressed that litigants in person, individuals representing themselves in court without a lawyer, need to understand legal procedures. Their failure to seek advice in the trial led to complications and higher costs. Could mediation have offered a smoother and more cost-effective path to resolution? Mediation provides a platform for the parties to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution without the need for expensive litigation. Delving into such alternatives might offer valuable insights for individuals navigating legal complexities on their own.
Litigants in person have been told they had every opportunity to get legal advice and should not rely on the court to accommodate their decision to go it alone.
In Mainline Pipelines Ltd v Phillips & Anor, His Honour Judge Paul Matthews, sitting in the High Court, stressed he did not criticise the defendants for representing themselves – but said they should expect no special treatment.
The principle that civil procedure rules apply equally to litigants in person was established in Barton v Wright Hassall, where the Supreme Court ruled that being without a lawyer did not justify allowing a lower standard of compliance.
Matthews expanded on this point, saying that in the modern day litigants in person had no excuse for not knowing the rules.