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Can in-house counsel represent their employer in court?

I am in-house counsel for a limited company litigant. Can I represent my employer in court?

Under Part 39.6 of the Civil Procedure Rules, a company may appear at a hearing through a duly authorised employee by permission of the court.

Permission - which should be sought in advance of the hearing - will usually be granted unless there is some particular and sufficient reason why it should be withheld.

The court will take into account whether the company is able to afford legal representation, the ability of the proposed representative to do the work, and whether the representative is able to understand and discharge the obligations involved in the litigation.

You should note that permission will not normally be granted for jury trials and contempt proceedings. You should also note that the Admirality and Commercial Courts Guide at paragraph M3.1 states that, because of their complexity, it is unsuitable in most Commercial Court cases for a company litigant to be represented by an employee.

For further information, please see Practice Direction PD 39A, paragraphs 5.2-5.6, which deal with the representation of companies by their employees.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email

The Practice Advice Service is staffed Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

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