- Ensure that all communications are written in plain English, avoiding jargon and explaining any legal terms. You can refer to the Resolution Good Practice Guides and draft letters.
- Keep communications polite and to the point. Remember that the LiP is unlikely to have any previous experience of court proceedings and they may be feeling emotional and overwhelmed.
- Be clear about how you will communicate with the LiP (preferably in writing avoid any confusion or misunderstanding) and ask that all proposals are made and confirmed in writing. Let the LiP know that you will only respond to their correspondence once you have your client’s approval, except to acknowledge safe receipt.
- Consider at an early stage whether the LiP needs a translation of your letter/documents, if English is not their first language.
- Remember to regularly remind the LiP to consider taking independent legal advice.
- Send the LiP notice of any hearing, confirming the date, time and location (consider including a map of the court address).
- Check whether the LiP will need an interpreter, if English is not their first language, or any special facilities at court.
- Take a spare bundle to court, and duplicates of any important documents, in case the LiP forgets their copy.
- When you arrive at court introduce yourself to the LiP and let them know where they can find you. Take the opportunity to answer any basic questions they may have about the court process.
- Ask the judge to explain the Order to the LiP, or if the judge does not have time, direct the LiP to services at court or suggest they obtain legal advice from a solicitor.
- If the LiP does not engage in correspondence, and you have tried alternative methods of communication (telephone/letter/email), make sure that you give them sufficient and repeated notice of any application for directions.
Managing Client Expectations
- Make it clear to your client that you have a duty to the court to answer any reasonable questions the LiP asks you and to ensure the LiP is aware of the next steps in the matter, both in writing and in person at court.
- Explain that the court will expect you to take the lead in preparing the case for any hearing, including compiling a bundle and drafting letters to any experts. This will add another layer of costs.
- Explain that you will abide by the Code of Practice and will at all times maintain professional standards, even though a LiP may not act in the same way. Consider whether it is necessary to forward the LiP’s correspondence, if it may upset your client.