A new paper by the independent judicial body the Civil Justice Council on unrepresented litigants has predicted that the number of those unfortunate enough to come before the courts without proper legal support would ‘increase and with considerable scale’. They will be the ‘rule rather than the exception’, it said. The CJC included a series recommendations however it also said that they would ‘not prevent the reality that in many situations… there will be a denial of justice’. ‘There must be no misunderstanding about this. Put colloquially, the recommendations are making the best of a bad job.’
The courts are already reporting high rates of non-representation and, according to the Ministry of Justice, almost one third of cases in the County Court (28%) involve at least one party unrepresented throughout the life of a case and close to one in five (17%) in the High Court. The Royal Courts of Justice CAB deals with inquiries from more than 11,000 people a year (all either about to be or involved in court proceedings) which represented a 40% increase in the last two years. This is before the legal aid cuts. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill proposes cutting £350m from the £2.2 billion legal aid bill.
You can read the report by Jon Robins, editor of www.thejusticegap.com , at the Guardian here.
See also the Justice Gap advice guide (DIY law) here.
Jon is editor of www.thejusticegap.com. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009 – with Steve Hynes) and People Power: how to run a campaign (Daily Telegraph and LawPack, 2008). Jon is a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and a patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He won the Bar Council's legal reporting award in 2015 and previously in 2005.