Litigants in Person – the horror!

Nicola Williams & Co published a thoughtful article on Flawbord earlier this week about the difficulties caused by and to litigants in person through their inability to secure legal advice and representation: Horrendous. Amongst other things the article looks at publicly available stats on the numbers of cases, noting along the way that those published stats don’t “tell us … how many of those were dealt with without a solicitor or other representative.” No, they don’t, but I know where you can get ’em, because I extracted them under the Freedom of Information Act and subsequently wrote a blog post about the resulting statistical tables.

And reading the post on Flawbord this week has prompted me to go back to HMCTS / the MOJ to call them out on their promise to publish updating stats on 12 Jan via another FOI request. Watch this space for news as to whether or not the numbers of LiPs rose between July 11 and Sep 11.

What do we think people? “Higher! Higher!” Brucey bonus if I’m right.

Damn your eyes you contemptible scoundrel!

You know those times when checking the to-do list doesn’t calm you down?


So in lieu of a calm considered post (or even in lieu of a lengthy and time consuming but ill considered ranty post) please accept the following offerings:

Contempt: Don’t be in it to win it. You’d think that journalists that do reporting for a living would have a clue about what contempt of court is and what they can and can’t report. Goodness, I know nothing about criminal law but even I can work out that tweeting the name of a member of the jury in a high profile tax evasion trial is probably not a great idea. And I don’t think you have to be a lawyer to work out that reporting the evidence of a witness given under oath while the jury was not present is also a bad idea. So bad in fact that said journalist has been reported to the AG (yes this is a real story not hypothetical). And the jury in the Harry Redknapp trial have been discharged. Not a great start for the new era of in-court tweeting. On the up side, through this article I found two other great articles on the Legal Week website about contempt of court: Avoiding Contempt of Court : Tips for Tweeters and Bloggers by @Adamwagner1 and What Not to Tweet – A Lawyer’s Guide by John Bloor. (h/t @inner_temple). Perhaps the lady in this article should have read those articles before she face booked her way into clink (well, at risk of clink anyway).

And in other news: “Litigants in person could struggle to secure access to justice“. Not really news you might say, but a really interesting article nonetheless. As is this guest post on Richard Moorhead’s blog by a US judge, who shares his excellent tips on how to deal with the self represented – different law, universal problem it seems. Also travelling well is this post by Bluegrass Family Law about aggressive lawyers. I agree with the sentiment.

Of particular interest to me, as a mum of a boy due to start school within North Somerset in Sep 12, is the Serious Case Review Report in respect of the Nigel Leat case (N Som Safeguarding Children Board) . It does not fill me with confidence. The basic failures in Child Protection procedure within a school run under the auspices of my own Local Authority is quite shocking.

Jonathan James writes about an interesting case about judges meeting subject children: AJ v. JJ and others [2011] EWCA Civ 1448. He also writes about the recent Daily Mail article by a mum who is hostile to the idea of her ex’s new partner being involved in her child’s life that has generate over 1200 comments. Probably best if I let him deal with that one: *Ma’am. Please step aWAY from the article*.

And that concludes my ramble.

I’ve ticked “do blog post” off my list.

Next up: “finish draft grounds of appeal”.

A Brief Adjournment

Typical. I get an invite to join the Guardian Legal Network and then I’m too too busy to post anything for like E-VAR! *teenaged eye roll*

So there are a few things I’ve had my eye on but which I haven’t had time to get a post together about…And those things are these:

  • The Family Justice Council have commissioned some research on Domestic Violence cases. They are asking for practitioners to respond to a survey.
  • The Civil Justice Council has just published a report on Litigants in Person(they call them Self Litigants but to me this sound like it is describing some category of crazy litigants who are suing themselves! Maybe Billy Connelly could make a film about it?). That report briefly references my book
    as “A valuable handbook for self-represented litigants in family courts”. Ahhh-thankyooo *Elvis voice*. Shamefully I haven’t had time to read it in full, but I know a man who has.
  • And Dave at Nearly Legal has written a really rather erudite piece about Jones v Kernott – far more detailed than my own (although in fairness mine wasn’t aimed at an audience of lawyers so I deliberately adopted a broad brush). It is here: Jones v Kernott – Ending the big debate?
  • And of course there’s still that Family Justice Review report which I still haven’t fully got to grips with (I particularly like the not-at-all-over-optimistic press release headline “Family Justice Review proposals to end delays in family courts”. As if the mere utterance of the proposals will instantly achieve the end of all delay (does this mean the instantaneous resolution of cases at the moment of issue? No need for lawyers at all then!))

I am about to write a proper post about my FOI request about litigants in person, but I have a sense that I might fall asleep, nose in a spreadsheet, before I complete that. So you can have this to be going on with.

Must try harder this week….