Lawyers and litigants acting for themselves will be glued to the Supreme Court this week for a ruling on a case with potential consequences for the application of civil procedure rules. 

Justices will decide whether the Court of Appeal erred in upholding a judgment in Barton v Wright Hassall LLP

The appellant, former litigant in person Mark Barton, wanted to bring professional negligence proceedings against the Midlands firm but his claim was ruled invalid after he emailed the claim form without receiving confirmation that it would be accepted in that way. 

A district judge ruled that Barton was not entitled to ‘special rules or indulgences’ and in March 2016 the Court of Appeal backed that decision. 

Commentators believe the case could establish the extent to which litigants in person should be granted special dispensation, with Barton arguing he could not understand the rules governing validation of service. 

Barton has sought a court order under CPR 6.15 that his service of the claim form was good service. He also asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the Court of Appeal’s reasoning breached his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the costs awarded to Wright Hassall were disproportionate to the work undertaken.  

Wright Hassall denies negligence and says Barton has not been able to show any good reason why he could not have served his claim form properly. 

The Supreme Court will hand down its judgment at 9.45am on Wednesday.