Litigants in person achieve “worse outcomes” by representing themselves, says report

A new report by Citizens Advice has found that litigants in person (LiPs) are likely to achieve “worse outcomes compared with their represented counterparts”. 

The report, Standing Alone, wrote: “Although some people find the experience of self-representation positive, the majority found self representing difficult, time-consuming and emotionally draining.”

It also showed that nine in 10 people who had been LiPS found the experience negatively affected their health, relationships, work or finances. Some lost their jobs due to the pressure, while others got into debt due to court issues, including paying for photocopying and travelling to and from court.

The charity said the rise in litigants in person was mainly due to clients being unable to afford a lawyer due to reduced funding for those going to the family court following the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) in 2013. 

But it also noted that some people chose to be unrepresented as they either mistrusted lawyers or were not aware of the value lawyers could bring to their case. The charity said unclear information about the services lawyers provide “makes it difficult for people to judge the quality of a professional or compare services”. 

The charity said it was only after people had been through the process of going to the family court that they realised the value of having a lawyer, with 70 per cent saying that instructing a professional would have benefited their court experience.

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