Reynard v Fox is a helpful judgment for defendants. We all try exceptionally hard to be fair when dealing with litigants in person. This case indicates that the court will apply the rules equally to both parties irrespective of whether they are represented.
The issue of whether litigants in person should be afforded special dispensation was highlighted earlier in the year in the case of Barton v Wright Hassall. In that case the claimant had purported to serve the claim form on the defendant’s solicitors by email, without obtaining any prior indication that they were prepared to accept service by those means. It was held that the lack of representation would not justify applying a lower standard of compliance with rules or orders of the court.
In their dissenting judgments, Lady Hale and Lord Briggs however left potential room for future changes to the treatment of litigants in person.
HHJ Paul Matthews held in the more recent case of Reynard v Fox, that the claimant was an intelligent and articulate litigant and that he could see no injustice arising merely from the fact that the claimant was a litigant in person.
‘You cannot successfully claim that an apple is an orange, on the grounds that you do not know the difference because you are a litigant in person. Defendants also have rights, including the right not to be made liable for causes of action which do not lie against them.’