People using the courts without representation, have often been given very sympathetic and lenient treatment by Judges and court staff. However, not knowing the law or the court rules, is no excuse for failing to follow them. As we explained recently here in the case of Barton v Wright Hassall, some Judges are hardening their approach to litigants in person who do not follow the correct procedure.
However, in another case of an unrepresented party getting away with mistakes and non-compliance, someone anonymously trying to sue Google in the High Court, has been ordered to serve on the court and Google, his full name and address.
How he managed to issue a claim and keep his identity secret is unclear. Under the court rules, it ought not to have been possible to commence and serve a claim without providing his full name and address. The rules on starting a claim form are found in CPR 7 and in particular the Practice Direction accompanying it which can be found here. The contents of the claim form are also set out in the Practice Direction to CPR 16 as found here.
The court had ordered him on numerous occasions to serve the information and he had not complied with those orders. If he does not comply with the next order, his claim will be struck out.
The Judge in the case explained the position very clearly:
“I make allowances for the fact you are a litigant in person so that’s why I’m saying this to you: orders of the court are not matters that you are free to decide when and if you will comply with them.”
Therefore, not knowing the correct rules and procedure, is no excuse for getting things wrong.