What is a Litigation Friend, and why are they needed?
While everyone is entitled to compensation for accidents and injuries that weren't their fault, they may not be able to make the claim because they are under the age of 18, or lack the mental capacity to do so. That's why the law allows them to have a Litigation Friend, who can act for them to claim the compensation they are entitled to. Find out more below, or talk to one of our friendly advisors on 0800 175 7900.
Who is allowed to be a Litigation Friend?
In most cases, this will be a parent, guardian or another close relative such as a spouse or sibling. Where none of these people are available, or willing to act as a Litigation Friend, this may be someone else such as a Social Worker or someone who has Power of Attorney over the victim's affairs. Where none of these people are available, the court may appoint a lawyer or solicitor to act as a Professional Litigation Friend.
On that point, it's worth noting that the court must approve anyone who applies to be a Litigation Friend. So you will need to fill in a Certificate of Suitability, explaining why you are the right person to act for the victim before the court allows this to happen.
The court will want to know that not only are you capable of making the right decisions on behalf of the injured party, but also that there is no conflict of interest. To put it another way, they need to know that you have only the interests of the victim at heart, and have no personal interest in gaining financially from the compensation claim.
What does a Litigation Friend have to do?
When you become a Litigation Friend, you are not claiming for yourself, you are claiming for the good of your incapacitated or under-age friend or relative.
This means having the responsibility for making lots of decisions, and looking after the claimant's rights at all times. So your responsibilities can include:
- Making decisions about medical treatment
- Instructing lawyers to start a claim
- Gathering the evidence the lawyers need
- Speaking to the Police if necessary
- Keeping records of all spending that relates to the claim
It goes without saying that this is a big responsibility. So you can rest assured that our lawyers are here to help every Litigation Friend as much as possible.
When do I stop being a Litigation Friend?
Being a Litigation Friend is a big responsibility, so you might be relieved to know that it isn't a permanent situation. You will only need to be a Litigation Friend until:
- The person you are acting for turns 18, or;
- The person you are acting for regains their mental capacity, or;
- The claim is completed, and a Full and Final settlement is received.
On rare occasions, people decide that they no longer want to act as a Litigation Friend. If this happens, you are allowed to apply to the court to be replaced, and someone else can then apply to the court to be approved as your replacement.
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