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Edit: I feel like there is a misunderstanding in my question. She is the business owner and really the only representative of the business; but still the judge said that a person can not speak for the business and cited some statute (i still havent gotten that). Is this possible and how is it possible?

So long story short, I have a friend that owns a LLC. She was sued by someone and instructed to appear in court (to represent the llc by the way). She was unable to appear in court and "appeared" over the phone (not sure if that makes a difference). After the opposing council said their piece she began to say her piece and the judge instructed her to stop talking and that she "could not speak on behalf of the LLC." The judge also cited some statute, but I don't have that right now. (i will find out what it is later when i see her in person)

So I guess a couple linked questions; FYI we live in Wyoming (if that is important)

Is there a statute that can keep the llc representative from speaking for it?

How are you supposed to defend the llc that clearly can not speak for itself?

  • What is her role? Manager or partner? Or ceo? Is there a reason she and/or the LLC does not have legal counsel? – A.fm. Aug 22 '17 at 17:45
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    managing member aka owner and time constraints on the counsel, hopefully in her future dealings, but not right now. – Odin1806 Aug 22 '17 at 19:05
  • Many jurisdictions follow the general rule that an artificial person, such as an LLC or a corporation may only "appear" in court by authorized legal counsel. If an officer/member didn't provide proof of authorization or proof that she was acting as counsel to her own LLC, that could be part of the problem. – Upnorth Aug 23 '17 at 18:24
  • She is the owner, and the person that everything regarding the suit has been sent to. She also sent a letter requesting to be granted the "appearance by phone" and the court authorized that. – Odin1806 Aug 23 '17 at 18:40
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Generally, a managing member of an LLC cannot speak for the LLC in court. The LLC needs to hire a licensed lawyer to do that.

The general rule is that entities may not represent themselves "pro se" through non-lawyer officers and must have a licensed attorney represent them in any court matter (in practice, a court will usually allow an officer or manager to write a letter to the court asking for a brief extension of time to a deadline to obtain a proper lawyer, even though that is logically inconsistent). If an entity does not hire a lawyer, a default judgment will enter against it.

In other words, a CEO or manager or managing member of a company isn't allowed to speak for it in court. This rule is almost universal in the world of legal systems descended from English common law, although sometimes there are narrow statutory exceptions.

The manager of an LLC is a person to whom legal process may be directed to begin a lawsuit, but that isn't the same as representing the LLC in court.

Wyoming does have an exception to the general rule for small claims court cases at Wyoming Statutes § 1-21-202(b), which states:

Notwithstanding the provisions of Chapter 5 of Title 33 of the Wyoming Statutes, in small claims court, the state, governmental entities, natural persons, corporations, partnerships, associations or other organizations may litigate actions on behalf of themselves in person or through authorized employees, with or without an attorney, provided that if an attorney appears, the opposing party is entitled to a continuance for the purpose of obtaining an attorney of its own.

Keep in mind, however, that small claims court only governs claims of $6,000 or less, and only in cases where the Plaintiff has elected to file a suit using small claims court procedures.

I note that this question is tagged "small claims court" but it isn't clear from the circumstances set forth in the question whether this is merely a claim for a small amount of money or is truly a claim that was filed using the special small claims court procedures in which an attorney is not required.

Wyoming Statutes § 33-5-101 et seq. is the law regulating attorneys which prohibits the unauthorized practice of law that is the basis for the general rule at Wyoming Statutes § 33-5-117 which states:

It shall be unlawful, and punishable as contempt of court, for any person not a member of the Wyoming state bar to hold himself out or advertise by whatsoever means as an attorney or counselor-at-law.

This statute isn't perfectly clear on its face, but is understood to codify the universal common law rule so it isn't ambiguous in any way.

  • Awesome. Thank you for your response. This helps the situation to make some more sense. They did deny her request for an extension because her attorney was not able to make it as well. Is there a reason that they would have denied that, but accepted her request to appear by phone? And thank you for the statutes as well. I could not find them myself to save my life... – Odin1806 Aug 24 '17 at 0:03
  • @Odin1806 There isn't a real reason other than to be considerate of someone as a matter of personal respect and out of the off chance that the person was actually a lawyer and just hadn't made that clear. – ohwilleke Aug 24 '17 at 0:08

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