McKenzie Friends study

Commenting on their findings, Drs Leanne Smith (Cardiff University) and Emma Hitchings (University of Bristol), who carried out the study alongside independent legal researcher Mark Sefton, said: ‘We found much that was positive about the work of paid McKenzie Friends. This is the first research to explore the views of clients of McKenzie Friends and those we spoke to reported receiving a great deal of valuable support from their McKenzie Friends at a relatively low cost.

https://www.solicitorsjournal.com/news/201706/mckenzie-friends-tread-%E2%80%98fine-line%E2%80%99-providing-non-legal-advice

Lawyers’ “fat cat” image leads to more LIPs

On 28 March 2016, Citizens Advice published a new report,called

Standing alone.

 

It focuses on going to the family court without a lawyer.

The majority found self representing difficult, time consuming and emotionally draining. As well as a bad experience for court users, it also means litigants in person achieve worse outcomes compared with their represented counterparts.

Nine in ten litigants in person say it affected at least one other aspect of their life. Standing alone: going to the family court without a lawyer explores the four key areas affected: mental and physical health, working lives, finances and relationships.

Relief from sanctions, late witness statements and litigants in person

The judgment of Mr Justice Warren in Chadwick -v- Burling [2015] EWHC 1610 (Ch) highlights some important issues in relation to relief from sanctions in general, and the position of litigants in person in particular.

Reblogged from Civil Litigation Brief

Civil Litigation Brief

The judgment of Mr Justice Warren in Chadwick -v- Burling [2015] EWHC 1610 (Ch) highlights some important issues in relation to relief from sanctions in general, and the position of litigants in person in particular.

THE CASE

The applicant in the case was the trustee in bankruptcy and bringing an action for possession and declarations of ownership in relation to a number of properties.  An order was made for the filing of evidence. The respondents did not file any evidence. A peremptory order was made that evidence be served by 5th August 2014 or the respondents be debarred from relying on evidence.

The second-respondent was the former wife of the bankrupt. She did not file evidence. She stated that she did not recall receiving the order, but did not positively state she did not receive it.

An application was made for relief from sanctions. That application was refused by the…

View original post 3,463 more words

Stress and the litigation process: how can lawyers make matters better?

From the original post:
“For us lawyers litigation is a technical process. For the litigants the effect of the litigation can have a major impact on their lives.”

From a comment:
“It still amazes me that to date, as lawyers, we fail to appreciate the importance of actively listening and showing empathy when engaging with clients.”

Civil Litigation Brief

There is a very useful article in the Solicitors Journal on stress and litigation (to avoid hyperbole I will not use the word “brilliant” but it deserves it.)  Hugh Koch analyse the sources of stress for litigants.  This made me think how little attention is paid to the “litigant’s view” of the litigation process. For us lawyers litigation is a technical process. For the litigants the effect of the litigation can have a major impact on their lives. There is little in our training (as barristers or solicitors) that helps us put ourselves in the litigant’s place and examine ways in which we can ease the stress to our clients.

THE ARTICLE

The article examines the 24 main reasons for stress.  Some of which lawyers can deal with, some not.

THE TOP REASONS FOR STRESS

Interestingly the number one reason for stress is “Being asked about the event again and…

View original post 373 more words

Family court without a lawyer

I just stumbled upon a series of excellent videos about going to court on your own in family law matters. They are good to watch for litigants in person tackling other areas of law too.

I recommend going to the court at least once before the day of your hearing. That way, you will know where to go on the day of the hearing and you’ll know how long it takes you to get there.

Take into account that a hearing can suddenly be scheduled in a different building for logistic reasons if there are several courts on the same location. Always check with court staff in which room (and which building) your hearing will take place (and listen to any announcements on the public address system, if there is one).

Our Pay-Per-Period assistance package can include some practical training focused on several aspects of going to court on your own. As our assistance is tailored to our clients’ specific needs, this differs from client to client.

Litigants in person in family law cases

Yesterday, James Munby – President of the Family Division – announced that the Ministry of Justice is planning a study surrounding the cross examination of vulnerable witnesses by LIPs.

You can read more about it:

and

  • here (the announcement by James Munby).

Views on litigants in person

D. Rosen at London-based Darlington Solicitors just published a post titled Perceptions and Expectations of Litigants in Person (‘LIPS’): A commercial Litigator’s perspective on the firm’s blog.

frustrated person making a phone call

Stressed litigant in person making a phone call

“During my career I have met many wonderful and varied LIPS.”, he or she writes.

“I am frustrated at seeing too many good people waste their lives pursuing their perception of truth and justice, because a Court has not agreed with them.”

I agree.

You have to know when to pursue a matter and when to let it go. A good way to decide can be to ask yourself whether other people – society – might benefit from it if you continue to pursue the matter.

Go read this post – here – because this solicitor makes very good points.

On the civil legal aid reforms

Last year, the National Audit Office published a report titled ‘Implementing Reforms to Civil Legal Aid’, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor of the General Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency.

Last week, the Bar Council responded to it. Chairman of the Bar Alistair MacDonald QC said:

Overall, the report reflects the Bar Council’s concerns that the scale of the cuts made to legal aid, and the way they were introduced, abandoned the most vulnerable, created disorder in our courts, and damaged our legal advice services.’

You can read the rest of the response: here.

Court of Appeal: LIPs must pay attention to Civil Procedure Rules

Last month, the Court of Appeal dealt with the case between Nata Lee Ltd and Abid & Another. Nata Lee appealed against an Order made in the Central London County Court in 2013.

court houseNata Lee had appeared in the County Court without legal representation and had failed to apply for permission to include an expert witness in a timely manner (three days late). The County Court judge subsequently refused to admit this witness.

Although other factors played a greater role in this case, in its judgement ([2014] EWCA Civ 1652), the Court of Appeal made clear that, in its view, the fact that a party is acting without legal representation is no reason to allow disregard for rules, orders and directions.

Litigants in person should not be surprised by the consequences of failing to comply with the CPR or by having applications for relief from sanctions turned down when these sanctions were the result of failure to comply with the CPR on the part of the litigant in person.

Lord Justice Briggs continued:

“There may be cases in which the fact that a party is a litigant in person has some consequence in the determination of applications for relief from sanctions, but this is likely to operate at the margins.”

More support for litigants in person in the future

Last month, Minister of State for Justice Simon Hughes announced that £2 million has been set aside towards a package of support for LIPs, with the apparent primary aim of resolving disputes without the involvement of the courts, but also supporting LiPs if their disputes do make it to the courts. That’s what various legal publications published. The Guardian, however, spoke of 1.4 million per year.

case filesThe funding is intended for the following:

  • Expansion of the Personal Support Unit (currently only present at a few locations in the UK);
  • The RCJ Advice Bureau (which helps claimants and defendants at the High Court or Court of Appeal at the Royal Court of Justice & County Courts across England and Wales, the family court at the Principal Registry of the Family Division or any other family court, and
    the bankruptcy court at the Royal Court of Justice);
  • LawWorks (he country’s leading legal pro bono charity for solicitors, in-house counsel, mediators and students); and
  • Law for Life, a public legal education charity.

This initiative is the result of the November 2011 report “Access to Justice for Litigants in Person (or self-represented litigants)“.

Sources:

Good advice for litigants in person

Last week, a District Judge gave me some excellent advice for litigants in person. I am going to share it with you. ‘Appearing in court is both stressful and confusing’, he wrote.

“If asked for advice on what in particular a litigant in person needs to do, I would say that preparation is essential: get all papers and other evidence in order and easily accessible, read it all thoroughly and prepare notes on the points that will need to be made. So often parties attend court without the bare essentials and immediately they are at a disadvantage and whilst a judge will do as much as he or she can, ultimately it is the litigant who has to conduct the case.”

Note the use of the word ‘forced’. Indeed, taking someone to court should not be done lightly. It costs money, a lot of effort and a great deal of time and you can end up owing a large sum to the other party if things do not go your way.