What is a Litigation Friend?

Author:
Sinead Ducrotoy
Personal Injury Associate Solicitor
Date:
23/09/2021

A Litigation Friend is somebody appointed to help a child or vulnerable adult make a personal injury claim.

If a child has been injured, they will be too young to make a claim, and a vulnerable adult may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. In that case, they must be represented by a suitable and competent adult.

These adults are known as Litigation Friends, and are often friends or family members of the injured person.

The claim will be conducted in the same way, but it’s the Litigation Friend who gives instructions to the Personal Injury Solicitor, not the client.

A Litigation Friend must always act in the client’s best interests when making decisions about the case and not their own.

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Why is a Litigation Friend Needed?

There are two types of people who need a Litigation Friend to make personal injury claims. 

  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Protected parties, such as adults who can’t manage their own affairs, maybe because they are seriously injured or lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves

Who Can Be a Litigation Friend?

Anyone can be a Litigation Friend and often, it’s family members who take up this role for their loved ones. For example, parents may act as a Litigation Friend for a child who’s been injured in a road traffic accident, but it can also be a family friend, social worker or guardian.

If there is nobody suitable or willing to act as someone’s Litigation Friend, they might be able to use the Official Solicitor to make a claim instead.

What Does a Litigation Friend Do?

A Litigation Friend can perform many tasks, such as:

  • Making decisions regarding the claim
  • Liaising with the Claimant’s Personal Injury Solicitor
  • Dealing with correspondence
  • Approving and signing documents
  • Attending meetings with Solicitors
  • Making sure the client attends medical legal appointments
  • Explaining the claim process to the client
  • Consider carefully any offers made

It’s a big responsibility and people should think carefully before they agree to act as Litigation Friend for someone.

The Litigation Friend must also complete a Certificate of Suitability, a form that explains why they are the right person to be a Litigation Friend.

When Does the Role of Litigation Friend End?

The obligation of a Litigation Friend ends when the child turns 18 years old. If you are a Litigation Friend for a protected party, it would end when the injured person regained mental capacity.

What Happens at the End of the Claim?

The Court will have to approve any compensation settlement on behalf of the child or protected party.

This means that once a claim settles, the case goes to Court and a Judge decides at an approval hearing whether the figure agreed between the parties is reasonable.

The Litigation Friend will go to the approval hearing with the client as their representative.

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