South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Attorney Must Represent Corporation in Legal Proceedings
Description

North Dakota high court held that a corporation must be represented by an attorney in all legal proceedings in court. Actions undertaken by non-attorneys on behalf of the corporation are void.

Topic Court Procedure
Key Words

Corporation; Representation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Schlenvogt got into a nasty dispute with some employees at a Cenex Oil facility. The Cenex manager petitioned for a restraining order against Schlenvogt. At the hearing, Schlenvogt appeared with counsel; an employee appeared on behalf of Cenex. The court issued the restraining order. Schlenvogt appealed.

Decision

Vacated. A corporation is an artificial person that must act through its agents. It may not be represented by a non-attorney agent in a legal proceeding. When a case is commenced on behalf of a corporation by a non-attorney, the case and all documents signed by the non-attorney agent are void from the beginning. Hence, the filing against Schlenvogt was void as was the court appearance by a Cenex employee..

Citation

Wetzel v. Schlenvogt, 705 N.W.2d 836 (Sup. Ct., N.D., 2005

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