Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Litigants In Person 2

Following my post yesterday I found research published by the Department of Constitutional Affairs "Litigants in Person: Unrepresented litigants in first instance proceedings" by Professor Richard Moorhead and Mark Sefton, Cardiff University. It's difficult to collect data on errors in law so the study concentrated on administration and procedural errors. In family cases litigants in person made errors overall in 37% of cases as opposed to sols who make errors in 13% of cases. Serious errors were found 1% of represented cases and 6% for litigants in person.

Types of errors made by litigants in person;

• respondents failing to answer questions on the acknowledgement of service

• flawed reasons for ­object­ing to paying costs

• failing to submit relevant documents, or failing to submit the correct fees

• flawed ­object­ions to paying costs, where costs were awarded against them

• respondent filing an answer out of time

• errors in the submission of consent orders

• inadequate and inappropriate questions in a questionnaire to the other side

• applying for a residence order to be made in favour of the other parent, who had no wish for such an order

• inappropriately raised financial matters in CA cases

• unrealistic demands about the scheduling of contact visits

• refusal to have any dealings with the other parent or their solicitor other than at court

• inappropriate involvement of children in the proceedings by encouraging their writing directly to the judge

• substantial delays by respondents in making the full and frank disclosure relating to finances required under the rules

• filing evidence but refusing to serve it on the applicant

• applicant failing to appear on the first injunction hearing of their application without apparent reason and without notifying the court, resulting in the case being struck out

• failure to contest an application for a residence order in the belief that as the child was 10 years old, the child’s wishes would automatically prevail

I should point out this relates to England & Wales as people representing themselves in Scottish family court cases is unusual.


Mr Pineapples 31 July, 2008 18:17  

My Dear Fee

Your comments were very valid - a great post.

Litigants in person are becoming more of a feature in the UK. Even in the County and High Court the numbers are rising.

It drives the Judge's nuts as the hearings are more screwed up by procedural irregularities and general mayhem.

There was a time when I supported the Labour party - and considered it to be the party of the common man.

Not anymore

The availability of legal representation has suffered greatly and hence the rise of LIPs.

Legal Aid for children cases are going to be severely cut back - and there's me thinking - children are important to society.

Not so

Fiona 31 July, 2008 21:06  

Yes, I was trying to help a househusband find a legal aid family solicitor and it was impossible. He ended up being represented by a criminal solicitor (criminal solicitor never sounds right!).

Since I wrote my post on Monday I've come across two more people who have been seriously disadvantaged because they didn't consult a solicitor. Grr...

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