The role of Litigation Friend (or ‘Next Friend’ as it was known for many years) can be undertaken by the Official Solicitor. However, this can lead to unnecessary expense and the Courts recognise that it is is not necessary or desirable in all cases. There may be others more suited to step in as a Litigation Friend, such as family members or attorneys.
When is a Litigation Friend required?
A litigation Friend is needed when someone is deemed under the Law to be unable to bring or defend a claim in Court by themselves. This generally applies to two categories of person: Children and protected parties.
A child is defined as any person under the age of 18.
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a protected party means a party (or potential party) who lacks the capacity to conduct legal proceedings on their own behalf.
How is a Litigation Friend appointed?
There are two ways in which a litigation friend can be appointed.
1. By a Court Order
2. By someone agreeing to undertake the role of Litigation Friend
Who should become a Litigation Friend?
It is usually appropriate for a Litigation Friend to be someone who already has a close relationship with the child or protected party. It is essential that the interests of the Litigation Friend do not conflict with that of the person they represent.
The Litigation Friend’s suitability to act will have to be determined by the Court in the event that legal proceedings are issued.
It is also worth noting that when the claim has been resolved the Court will be required to approve the settlement at an ‘approval hearing’.
If you are helping someone who requires a Litigation Friend and require advice then please call our FREE helpline on 0808 139 1606.