Litigants in person: unrepresented litigants in first instance proceedings
Moorhead, Richard Lewis
- Publisher: Department for Constitutional Affairs
This study seeks to define the different ways in which unrepresented litigants manifest themselves within proceedings, and explore the difficulties posed to unrepresented litigants, court staff, judges and opponents. The report explores detailed quantitative and qualitative data on unrepresented litigants in first instance civil and family cases, excluding small claims. It finds that unrepresented parties are common, and more likely to be defendants. In civil cases in particular, there is a strong link between non-representation and non-participation. Parties go unrepresented for a range of reasons, including inability to afford representation. Problems faced by unrepresented litigants demonstrate struggles with substantive law and procedure. The boundary between the provision of information and advice by court staff also presents problems. Both court staff and judges perceived that improvements can be made in the way that unrepresented litigants are handled, including improvement to court-based services providing greater assistance.
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