Why You Need Legal Counsel

August 2014Articles In the Zone

In the case of Selig v. The Zoning Hearing Board of North Whitehall Township, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, in an unreported decision, upheld prior case law ruling that a corporation cannot proceed “pro se” or with a non-attorney representing them. In the Selig case, Selig attempted to handle a land use appeal in court, without legal counsel, as the sole shareholder and officer of an underlying corporate applicant. The Commonwealth Court confirmed that a corporation cannot take legal action in court except through legal counsel and that such rule of law holds true even if the corporation only has one shareholder. By implication, this same rule requiring attorneys to represent corporations in court should also apply to limited partnerships and limited liability companies. Similarly, many of the governing bodies and zoning hearing boards in Pennsylvania properly apply this same rule in their administrative proceedings; thus requiring any entities to be represented by licensed legal counsel. In fact, there is a separate body of law that prohibits non-lawyer agents of the applicant (such as engineers, architects, realtors, etc.) from representing such applicants in administrative proceedings as constituting the unlawful practice of law. In summary, any corporations, limited partnerships and limited liability companies should have legal counsel representing them in all land use proceedings before the municipality and in court.

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