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Risks Facing Litigants in Person Highlighted Following £100,000 Costs Bill

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A recent claim and subsequent costs order has again highlighted the financial risks that many Litigants In Person (‘LiPs’) face when taking legal action with professional representation or appropriate legal expenses insurance.



In the case in question, Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation v Hardy, Judge Paul Matthews ruled that the losing defendant and Lip must pay £100,000 in interim costs, representing 60% of the total claimant costs, with the remainder being subject to further detailed assessment.
The claim itself involved defendant and LiP Mark Hardy, who was facing a claim from the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation, an incorporated firm also registered as a charity. Mr Hardy had been the foundation’s finance director and had subsequently made allegations including fraud and false accounting. The court ruled that Hardy’s request for copies or inspection of documents under section 116 of the Companies Act was invalid, and not made for a proper purpose. The claimant sought to recover its costs, estimated at around £163,000 on the indemnity basis.

Mr Hardy’s conduct of the case was criticised by the judge as being ‘well out of the norm’, as was the way he approached correspondence, the language and tone he employed, attempts to put in large amounts of irrelevant material and the way he made unsupported accusations against the claimant and its directors. Mr Hardy had ‘vigorously’ insisted in correspondence that the remote trial of the claim should be live streamed on YouTube because hundreds of people were interested in watching. This request was dropped before the trial without argument, and in the event no more than 12 members of the public watched the remote proceedings. In total, Hardy’s correspondence with the claimant and its solicitors filled two lever arch files of the trial bundle, and in December 2020 alone he sent 46 emails of letters to the claimant. The judge said that Hardy’s correspondence showed him as ‘difficult to deal with, condescending and indeed offensive’.

In considering costs, the judge also noted that the defendant had reminded him more than once that he was a LiP and not a qualified lawyer, but this did ‘not excuse him’. Citing Lord Briggs in Barton, where the court declined to give a litigant in person special treatment, the judge added: ‘There are not two sets of rules for litigation in this jurisdiction, one for represented litigants and one for unrepresented.’

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