Instructing a Solicitor is often described as a "distress purchase". If your only experience of instructing a Solicitor is during a divorce or house move, you would be inclined to agree.
A Personal Injury lawyer will often see clients at a difficult time in their life while they struggle emotionally and physically to come to terms with the after effects of the accident.
Many find the prospect of instructing a solicitor off-putting, or perhaps they fear the cost implications, and it is understandable that some people choose to represent themselves.
There is of course nothing to stop you from bringing a claim without the help of a lawyer, these Claimants are known as a 'Litigant in Person'. The recent proposals to increase the small claims limit to £5,000 will encourage even more people to represent themselves rather than have to pay for a lawyer out of their damages.
This is however a high risk strategy for most Claimants. Few people know the value of their claim and some insurance companies may take advantage of this and make low settlement offers. Litigants in Person also have to navigate their way around unfamiliar Court rules and procedures.
In a recent case which came before Master Matthews over the handling of an estate, the Court asked the litigant in person Defendant to prepare a document in a certain manner, which he failed to do.
The document was criticised by the Court and it was highlighted that there is only one set of rules in our legal system and whilst there is some leeway for Litigants in Person they only exist at the margins. The Judge felt that he had little choice but to judge the position by reference to the ordinary procedural rules applicable to everyone.
He therefore struck out Litigants claim for failing to comply with the Court rules.
The moral of the tale is that litigation and Court proceedings are complex. To ensure that justice is done it is advisable to consult an experienced Solicitor.
Ashfords will offer a conditional fee agreement (no win no fee) in any case where we are satisfied that the prospect of success is greater than 50%.
There is no need for Claimants to enter into the complex world of personal injury litigation without the support of a qualified and experienced lawyer.