Guidance of Procedure
The Litigant in Person Advice Centre provide simplified legal advice for litigants in person, making legal jargon surrounding litigants in person guidelines easier to understand. A handbook has been issued by the judiciary to assist litigants in person in the navigation of the civil justice system. The handbook provides advice on other alternatives, such as legal aid, pro bono solicitors and no win no fee solicitors. It also provides guidance on procedure, the Pre-Action Protocol and the Civil Procedure Rules. It may also be worth noting that the Law Society has provided guidance to solicitors, advising on duties owed to Litigants in Persons and good practice across the family courts and civil courts and tribunals.
Pre- Action Protocols
All litigants in persons are expected to know the relevant pre-action protocols which apply for the type of claims or legal proceedings in which they are self-representing. A pre-action protocol provides rules for the steps which should be taken when a person wishes to bring a claim before the Court. There are different pre-action protocols for 12 different types of claims, including protocols for personal injury claims, housing disrepair claims, debt claims, and media and communications claims. As all LIP’s will be given the same treatment as those pursuing a claim with legal representation, it is of utmost importance that all litigants in persons are aware and understand how to apply the pre-action protocol in the litigation of the type of claim they are involved in.
Civil Procedure Rules
LIP’s are also expected to have knowledge of, and know how to apply the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) which apply to the type of case they are involved in. The CPR applies to all case types and sets out a procedural code which allows the courts to deal with all cases fairly. CPR 46.5 provides a definition on what a Litigant in Person is. When recovering costs, Practice Direction 46.5 provides guidance on the costs recoverable for a successful Litigant in Person.
How to Self-Represent in a Civil Case
If you are bringing or defending an action, you should first look at your options for representation and decide whether becoming a litigant in person is the best option for your circumstances. Bringing or defending a legal action always comes with the risk of your case being unsuccessful. You should ensure that you are able to follow the required Pre-Action Protocols and Civil Procedure rules effectively before deciding to represent yourself in a case.
If you lose your case, you could be held responsible for paying the successful party’s legal costs, so it is highly important that you understand what is required of you in this situation.
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