Lemas and Another v Williams: CA 30 Apr 2009

The court considered the extent to which a judge having conduct of a civil trial had an obligation to assist a litigant in person in the conduct of his case. Rimer LJ said: ‘Mr Lemas represented himself and, like any litigant in person, he enjoyed a degree of autonomy as to the manner in which he conducted his case. Trying cases in which a party is representing himself can be amongst the more difficult judicial tasks. Judges should be, and are, properly sensitive to the disadvantages that such litigants face; and will ordinarily do their best to ensure that the unrepresented litigant has a proper opportunity to present his case fully. This may, for example, require the granting of adjournments in circumstances in which no like adjournment would be granted to a represented litigant. It may require a degree of indulgence during the litigant’s examination of witnesses. It may require the judge to take a firm line in keeping the litigant to the relevant issues.
There are, however, limits to what a judge can and should do in order to assist such a litigant. It is for the litigant himself to decide what case to make and how to make it, and what evidence to adduce and how to adduce it. It is not for the judge to give directions or advice on such matters. It is not his function to step into the arena on the litigant’s side and to help him to make his case.’
Mummery, Rimer, Sullivan LJJ
[2009] EWCA Civ 360
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedMuschett v HM Prison Service CA 2-Feb-2010
The claimant had been employed through an employment agency to carry out work for the respondent. He appealed against dismissal of his appeal against a ruling that he was not a worker for the respondent under the 1996 Act. He said that the . .

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Updated: 14 February 2021; Ref: scu.341792