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Going it alone - a guide to representing yourself in court

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 10 April 2015
  2. Miscellaneous
  3. 0 comments
Preparing for self-representation

Representing yourself in court is not an ideal situation – unfortunately, with the rampant legal aid cuts (and further cuts on the way) it is a situation that increasingly more people are finding themselves in, particularly in family cases.

When you represent yourself in court, you are known for the purposes of the case as a Litigant in Person, or LIP.

If you do find yourself facing an upcoming case without anyone to represent you, here are some things you can do.

Do your research

Law is complicated, and you can’t be expected to learn everything you need to know before your case – however, you can still give yourself a good idea of what your rights are and how you could argue your case.

Law on the Web has plenty of free legal information on both personal law and business law. You can get information on family law, employment, motoring law, and more.

Get free or affordable legal advice

There are a number of organisations and charities who may be able to help you, depending on what sort of legal issue you are facing. Law Centres which operate across the country – these centres can give legal advice across different areas of social welfare law, including employment, housing, immigration and welfare benefits. You can find your nearest centre on the Law Centres Network website.

Alternatively, you could visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau – they can give advice on consumer issues, including a range of legal issues. You can find your local bureau on the Citizens’ Advice website.

There are a number of charities which offer telephone helplines or other help on specific issues – here are a few of them and how they can help.

McKenzie Friends

McKenzie Friend is the term given to an individual isn’t a qualified lawyer, but can help you with your case.

Obviously, a McKenzie Friend is unlikely to be able to give you the kind of technical legal advice that a lawyer would be able to. However, they can help in other ways – they can help you to carry out research for the case, take notes and remind you of issues you want to raise in court, and provide moral support.

A McKenzie Friend can accompany you in court, but there are limitations on what they can do. They can’t act on your behalf, and in most cases, and they are not allowed to address the court (although the judge may allow it if you ask).

Anyone can act as a McKenzie Friend for you, usually a friend or a family member – however, there is a growing market of people who will act as a McKenzie Friend for a fee, usually somewhere between £35-£60. While this is significantly cheaper than a lawyer, you should bear in mind that most McKenzie Friends do not have any legal qualifications, or any insurance.

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