How to represent corporation in court without attorney?

Without getting into any details, a company that I’ve been doing IT work for has been sued. Knowing that I used to work for some law firms and have successfully handled a couple of cases in civil court, I was asked to look at the suit.

The good news is that it looks like the company will win without much effort - the claim is for breach of contract, but the alleged breach was over four years ago, and in California, the statutory limit for bringing action for this is four years.

The bad news is that the company still must file an Answer with the court with the affirmative defense that the plaintiff waited too long and as such, is outta time and outta luck.

I’ve already written up six affirmative defenses and am no stranger to fax-and-file services. The question is:

A person representing themselves in court (in California, at least) appends “in pro per” after their name, indicating that they are acting without an attorney. Obviously, a company isn’t a person, so how would a company go about filing for itself without an attorney?

Your question is, big surprise, jurisdiction specific. Some courts don’t allow artificial persons to appear pro se. Your company may be forced to hire an attorney. I’d recommend talking to one to find out, at any rate. SoLs can be deceptively tricky little SOB’s.

In New York, CPLR 321(a) requires that “a corporation or voluntary association shall appear by attorney,” except in small claims cases. New York courts routinely enforce this requirement.

I would call the clerk’s office of the court in which the case was filed and ask if you need to be represented by an attorney.

in other words, what **pravnik ** said.

The case is in civil, rather than small claims, so I’ll let them know to find an attorney.

Gfactor, thanks for the cite!

What you could do is call the plaintiff (or his attorney, if he is represented), tell him he filed too late and explain why; tell him you will be spending $1000 for an attorney and offer to split the $1000 with him if he’ll drop the case with prejudice and sign a release.

Of course, he might explain to you why the case is actually timely.


See, this is why you shouldn’t seek legal advice on the internet. In some jurisdictions, someone following that advice may be committing the offence of offering a secret commission. See, for example, the Criminal Code of Canada:

Of course, this isn’t meant to be legal advice, but simply to point out the dangers of soliciting legal advice over the internet. I have no idea how the law of California deals with this issue.

In most, if not all, of the United States, it is perfectly legal to settle a civil case. i.e. one side pays money to the other side, and the other side drops the case.

What are your legal credentials?

Sure - but my point is that the post can also be read as calling up the attorney, and offering him the $500 to end the litigation. Offering it to the plaintiff directly, or offering it to the plaintiff through his lawyer, are one thing. Offering it to the lawyer personally is quite another. The post is ambiguous, highlighting the dangers of taking legal advice from an internet message board.

I think it’s pretty clear what I meant. And if you felt the post was ambiguous, you might have made that point when you first responded.

But I do agree that it’s often a bad idea to take legal advice from some stranger posting on the internet.

Sorry if my first post was ambiguous. :wink: