A litigation friend is someone who helps someone else make a compensation claim. Learn more in these FAQs answered by our personal injury specialists.
If you’re a litigation friend or if you know someone who may need a litigation friend, our solicitors could help. We secure compensation for thousands of people across the country every year and regularly work with litigation friends on a variety of cases.
Contact us online or talk to us today on 0800 056 4110 to find out more.
What is a litigation friend?
A litigation friend helps someone else claim compensation if they can’t make a claim themselves.
There are two groups of people who need litigation friends to make personal injury claims:
- Protected Parties.
Children under the age of 18 aren’t allowed to use solicitors to make a claim or make legal decisions about claims. They need litigation friends to do these things for them.
A Protected Party is an adult who can’t manage their own affairs. This is usually because they’re seriously injured or ill, or lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Someone may lack mental capacity due to a brain injury or a mental illness.
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Who can be a litigation friend?
Anyone can be a litigation friend as long as they can fulfil the role fairly and competently.
Family members often act as litigation friends for their loved ones: parents, siblings, partners, or children. A close friend can also be someone’s litigation friend.
In some cases, it may be more suitable for someone’s legal guardian, social worker, or professional carer to be their litigation friend.
If no one can act as someone’s litigation friend, they may be able to use the Official Solicitor to make a claim instead. The Official Solicitor is a government body that helps children and people who lack mental capacity with legal issues.
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What responsibilities does a litigation friend have?
When helping someone with a claim, a litigation friend must always have their best interests in mind at all times.
A litigation friend should consider those best interests whenever making a decision about the case.
They must never make decisions about the claim in their own interests.
A litigation friend may need to:
- Sign legal documents
- Attend court hearings
- Meet with solicitors and take legal advice when needed
- Direct solicitors to act in the best interests of the person you’re representing
- Give updates to the person you’re representing, if possible
- Make decisions about the case, such as whether to accept a compensation settlement.
Being a litigation friend is a big responsibility. Compensation claims can be stressful and emotional for both litigation friends and the people they represent. Claims for serious injuries, including brain injuries, can take several years.
Anyone considering being a litigation friend should think carefully about whether they’re ready to take on this responsibility. Don’t feel pressured into being a litigation friend if you don’t feel up to it - remember that the Official Solicitor can help someone claim if no one else can.
If you have any questions or concerns, call us on 0800 056 4110 to speak to one of our advisors.
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How do I become a litigation friend?
If you want to make a claim on someone’s behalf, our solicitors can help you apply to be their litigation friend.
In most cases, you’ll need to:
- Complete a certificate of suitability, a form that explains why you’re suitable to be a litigation friend
- If you’re applying to be a child’s litigation friend, send a copy of this certificate to their parent, guardian, or carer. If you’re applying to be a Protected Party’s litigation friend, send it to their legal deputy, attorney, carer, or the person themselves
- Complete a certificate of service, a form that confirms how you completed step 2
- Send both certificates to the court with your claim.
We can help you fill out both forms and send them to the relevant people.
If you’re already acting as the person’s legal deputy, you just have to provide a copy of the court order that appointed you as a deputy. This gives you permission to act as a litigation friend without following the steps above.
You’ll stay a litigation friend until:
- The claim ends
- The person you’re representing turns 18, or
- The person you’re representing regains mental capacity.
You can also voluntarily step down during the claim. If someone else is willing to take over the role, they can apply by following the same application process. If there isn’t a suitable replacement, the Official Solicitor will be able to take over for you.
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How does using a litigation friend affect the claim?
In general, using a litigation friend doesn’t affect how a claim goes ahead.
The main difference is that the Court must approve any compensation settlement that the litigation friend agrees on behalf on the person they’re representing.
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Get in touch today
If you know someone who may need help to make a compensation claim, contact us today to learn more about how we can support you as a litigation friend.