Litigants in Person Guidelines
Growth in the number of litigants in person has prompted a number of legal organisations to draft guidelines for lawyers who come up against people who find themselves in court without legal representation.
The guidelines, which have been developed by:
- the Bar Council,
- Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), and
- the Law Society
are relevant to the civil and family courts and tribunals where there has been an influx of people who cannot afford to instruct a lawyer, have not been able to obtain free legal advice and often have no alternative other than to embark on ‘do it yourself’ justice.
The guidelines discuss how far lawyers can help unrepresented people without this conflicting with their duties to their own clients. Lawyers are advised to communicate clearly and avoid technical language or legal jargon, or to explain jargon to the unrepresented party where it cannot be avoided.
Lord Dyson, master of the rolls, commented:
‘I warmly welcome the publication of these joint professional guidelines, and the collaboration of the three leading professional bodies in producing a valuable and timely reference for lawyers.
‘An increasing number of litigants in person are coming before courts and tribunals in all jurisdictions, and the challenge for all of us in the justice system is to make sure that everyone is treated equally, fairly and impartially and according to the law.
‘This presents particular challenges for practitioners, with the interests of the client and the duty to the court seemingly coming into conflict. However, ultimately, a client is best served by a fair and transparent system.’
The guidelines are available to download below.