There has often been debate about who or what may constitute a Litigant in Person and, whilst the CPR and their associated guidance have done their best to try and cover all eventualities and circumstances, there will always, inevitably, be occasions where circumstances have not been predicted.
One such instance was recently determined in the High Court before Judge Purle QC in Halborg v EMW Law (reported on Lawtel), in which the issue of whether a solicitor’s Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) was or was not a Litigant in Person for the purposes of CPR 46.5.
It has long been established under the predecessors to, and now under CPR 46.5(6) that both a “company or other corporation” acting without legal representation, or a Barrister, Solicitor, solicitors employee, manager of a recognised body or other person authorised to undertake a regulated activity not represented by a firm in which they were a partner were a Litigant in Person. However, there appeared to be a tension within the Rule as to whether the definition of a “person” in Rule 46.5(6)(b)(v) could be interpreted to include companies or other corporations, on the basis that rule 46.5(6)(a) already provided for “a company or other corporation…acting without a legal representative” as being a Litigant in Person.
The implications as to costs of an LLP either being or not being a Litigant in Person are, of course, significant for both parties and thus clarification on this point was crucial. Lawtel notes that “A company with an in-house lawyer could recover costs at the normal rate, and the same was true of the partnership. The context of that rule meant that it referred to individuals only, and it did not apply to limited liability partnerships suing in their own right.
The partnership was not a litigant in person.” with Judge Purle QC finding that an LLP which acted for itself was not a Litigant in Person and was therefore not limited by CPR 46.5 as to the recovery of its costs, finding that the use of “person” within Rule 46.5(6)(b)(v) would make the Rule nonsensical if interpreted to include “companies or other corporations”.
The LLP was the legal entity, so any exception under CPR 46.5(6)(b) did not and could not apply to it. There will, of course, always be occasions where a party or parties consider that their particular circumstances or status has not been provided for within the Rules. However it is pleasing that the High Court has once again not shied away from providing clarity and guidance to assist parties in the future.