Children suffering injury
A claim pursued by a Claimant under the age of 18 or otherwise lacks capacity must be pursued on his or her behalf by a responsible adult. In any court proceedings the person pursuing the claim on a child’s behalf is described as a “Litigation Friend”. Generally a parent will act as litigation friend for a child claimant.
If the claim has not have been resolved by the time child reaches the age of 18, then he or she will be entitled to take over the conduct of the claim.
Court approval of settlements
Where a person making a claim for compensation is under the age of 18 or otherwise lacks capacity, the Civil Procedure Rules (which govern the conduct of the civil Courts in England and Wales) require any agreed settlement negotiated by the parties to be approved by the Court.
The Court approval process involves an application to the Court and a brief hearing before a Judge. In addition, the Court will require, except in very clear cases, an opinion from a barrister on the merits of the settlement offered to the injured person.
The Court approval process is usually straightforward and involves a short hearing before the Court. Usually, the Court will require the litigation friend to attend the hearing and will often ask that the injured person also attends the hearing. The judge will be presented with copies of any medical reports used to assess the claim and any advice provided by a barrister and will then review whether the proposed settlement is fair.
The Court will look at the amount that Defendant proposes to pay to the injured person and then consider whether it is satisfied that the settlement is appropriate to the nature and scale of the injured person’s injuries.
During this process, the Court also ensures that any money compensation to be paid to a child is appropriately invested safely until the child reaches the age of 18 and, if appropriate, the Court will give directions for the release of funds to meet expenditure to be incurred before the child reaches the age of 18
Court approval provides a means by which the Defendant obtains a valid discharge from the child’s claim. It is necessary for the Court to take this role as a person who is under the age of 18 or otherwise lacks capacity cannot enter into a legally binding contract or give a valid receipt for monies received.
Court approval also ensures that the solicitors acting for the injured person are paid their proper costs and no more.
Please contact us if you would like any further details of the assistance we can offer.