It’s been a slow burn folks – Family Courts Without a Lawyer was published in 2011, and many were the perplexed looks and guffaws from colleagues at the bar back then. They thought I was nuts, some thought I was possibly mildly treacherous.
But now it’s all the rage. It’s like Gangnam or Super Samurai Power Rangers I tell you (well, in our house anyways). This is the closest to trendy I will ever be.
The Bar Council have this week published their long awaited Guidance for litigants in person, under the headline “We won’t stand by as vulnerable people suffer”. It has been produced in conjunction with various Specialist Bar Associations, including the Family Law Bar Association, and covers general court process as well as specific areas of law. It was gratifying to see the reference in the family section to Family Courts Without A Lawyer. Oh yes people. I have arrived.
But also racing up the charts are The Civil Justice Council, with their Guide to Small Claims for Litigants in Person, produced no doubt as penance for the introduction of the guerrilla term “Self Represented Litigants” which diverted us for the better part of 18 months.
And pop pickers, there’s a Guide for Litigants in Person dealing with Interim Applications in The Queen’s Bench Division coming in at number 3 (a bit “niche” if you ask me ;-)).
Although the first implementation update in respect of the modernisation programme from Sir Ernest Ryder says “The MoJ is working with the Family Justice Council on guidance for SRLs in both children and financial remedy cases”, that was December and there is no mention of it in the second implementation update in February. I may have missed it but I can’t see anything on the FJC or MoJ websites so assume that it is either a work in progress or that it’s been ditched upon realising that there was duplication of effort going on.
We professionals have got Practice Directions and Rule amendments coming out of our ears, but it’s striking that the only Guidance for Litigants in Person specifically dealing with family courts that is available by the date of implementation of LASPO (today) comes not from HMCTS, not from the MoJ, not from the FJB or FJC, not from the judiciary….but from the bar.
[Postscript : Erk. Late night paranoia has set in. Lest there be any doubt in your mind my tongue was firmly in my cheek for the duration of this post - I am not the complete and utter ego maniac I may appear if you were to read it dead pan. As you were...]