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Anthony Johnson was instructed by DWF on a case where the Judge made a Wasted Costs Order against the former solicitors of a Claimant whose case had been Struck Out at trial after it transpired that he was unable to read or understand English. Noting that the Directions Order had made specific reference to witnesses’ ability to read and understand English, he held that they had been inappropriate, inadequate and negligent.
The Judge held that it is absolutely essential that solicitors make tactful enquiries about their clients’ ability to read and understand English in any case. On the facts of this case, the failure was particularly egregious because their previous Counsel had warned them that the Claimant could not read his statement and that it was invalid. They should have immediately sought to rectify this problem by treating the situation as an emergency. Tying everything together he concluded that they were ‘not deliberately dishonourable, just failing to get their act together in a fairly hopeless way’.