No need to check a litigant in person is making the right arguments

In his judgment in the case of EDF Energy Customers Ltd v. Re-Energized Ltd[2018] EWHC 652 (Ch), His Honour Judge Paul Matthews (sitting in the High Court) refers to his previous judgment in the case of Reynard v. Fox [2018] EWHC 443 (Ch)in respect of litigants in person and notes that it is necessary to expand upon those comments.

The Appellant, Re-Energized Ltd, sought to overturn a compulsory winding up order made against the company. They were represented by their Director, Mr Luke Watson, and so were a litigant in person. Mr Watson argued that the hearing of the winding up petition had been unfair as the District Judge had not allowed him to re-argue points already decided at a previous application hearing and because he had not, as a litigant in person, fully understood what he was entitled to ask the Court for at the hearing.

HHJ Matthews noted that Mr Watson had not sought adjournments at the previous hearings in order to obtain legal advice/representation and had been happy to advance his company’s case at those hearings, nor had he sought to appeal the outcome of the previous application hearing; he had made a choice as to how the company’s resources were to be allocated and so “cannot complain if it does not produce the result he wished for”.

HHJ Matthews also considered the manner in which District Judge Watkins had conducted the hearing of the winding up petition. He noted that the District Judge, despite being hard pressed with a busy list, had considered Mr Watson’s written submissions, asked the right questions and asked if there were any further points to make. HHJ Matthews concluded that:

“In my judgment, there was no duty on the court in those circumstances to give any further assistance to an articulate and knowledgeable litigant in person. In particular, there was no need to go through any checklist of points to see whether there could be anything else which Mr Watson had not mentioned but should have mentioned”. 

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