By Amy Rumble.
On more than one occasion I have arrived at court to be informed the Claimant is not coming or is there but without their birth certificate. These simple errors can be prevented and rectified prior to the hearing by ensuring the Claimant has confirmed attendance at the correct time and has been reminded of the need to bring the birth certificate.
You are likely to need a draft order, CFO 320, CFO 212 and CFO 403. You should fill these in as much as possible before attending court. This will allow you to be organised and focussed when meeting your clients and when appearing before the Judge. Top Tip: The Judge is usually grateful if you fill in the key information under the “To be completed by the Judge” section.
Amendments may be required during investment discussions. It is therefore a good idea to take spare clean copies of the court forms with you to court.
This is an easy way to get to grips with the medical evidence quickly and the applicable JC Guidelines. It will assist you in framing your submissions for the approval of quantum.
Always check the Claimant recovered in line with the prognosis period and has fully recovered at the time of hearing. Make sure if there are any relevant future risks these have been considered, discussed and accounted for.
Confirm with the file handler what agreements have been made regarding deductions and what documentation has been filed in support of such deductions. Judges are increasingly reluctant to allow payments out from the damages award. It is best practice to discuss this position with the file handler before hearing.
This governs the position on infant approval hearings. In particular CPR 21.12 and PD21.11 will need to be followed if deductions are being requested. Be familiar with the provisions and have a copy ready to assist.
If costs have been agreed the Judge shall order costs in the agreed sum. Check beforehand! It can expediate payments and bring conclusion to the case.
If the Claimant has a trust fund account in their name and the funds cannot be accessed until the age of 18 this is likely to be a preferable investment option. The Judge is likely to request site of the account details.
10. Invite the Claimant and Litigation Friend to sit alongside Counsel at the hearing
The Judge may have some questions for the litigation friend or may want to have light-hearted conversation with the infant. This hearing is not an adversarial arena. Inviting your clients to sit alongside you makes it a more comfortable experience for everyone. Some Judges may even let the infant try on their wig and play Judge (no names mentioned).