In simple terms, a litigation friend refers to someone who can help to make a personal injury or compensation claim on your behalf.
Often, this will be required in instances where you have learning difficulties or mental impairments that prevent you from making a claim by yourself. Unsurprisingly, litigation friends are common with brain injury claims, due to the impact that such injuries can have on victims.
Virtually anyone can be a litigation friend, so long as they’re an adult and able to fill the role fairly and competently.
Usually, it’s family members who act as litigation friends to their loved ones, including parents (in the case of younger claimants), siblings, partners and even children. Close friends can also serve as a litigation friend, while there are also instances where it may be more suitable for a legal guardian or carer to fulfil this role.
What are the duties of a litigation friend?
As a litigation friend, you’ll need to direct the legal proceedings on behalf of the other person. This broadly means taking decisions that are in their best interests, while paying any costs that may be ordered by the court.
Usually, you’ll also have to liaise closely with solicitors and maintain open lines of communication, ensuring that the client is completely happy with everything that’s going on and that the case is unfolding as they like.
Above all else, you’ll need to do everything that you can to keep your friend informed about what’s happening in real-time. This also enables you to raise any questions or queries that they have and present these to your solicitor.
How to become a litigation friend
If you want to become a litigation friend, you’ll first need to inform the solicitor acting in your behalf before providing a copy of the court order that appointed you the claimant’s deputy.
This can be done as soon as you’ve been given formal permission to act as a litigation friend, and it’s important to act quickly given the three-year window in which you’ll be able to pursue a personal injury or medical negligence claim.
You must also file your court order of suitability with the court before you can act on another’s behalf, which is important if the individual is unable to act on their own behalf.
Simply contact the court to find out where the document needs to be delivered, as this can also prevent minimal delays going forward.
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