Civil Justice Council of England and Wales Report and Recommendations on Self-Represented Litigants

As reported by Richard Moorhead, the Civil Justice Council has issued its report on how to respond to the increase in self-represented litigants expected in England and Wales as a result of the massive legal aid cutbacks.

The recommendations, as summarized in the press release, will be astonishingly familiar:

1. Improving the accessibility, currency and content of existing online resources;

2. Producing a ‘nutshell’ guide for self-represented litigants (SRPs);

3. Improving judicial and court services for SRPs;

 4. Advice for judges on the availability of legal pro bono services;

 5. Guidance for court staff when dealing with SRPs;

 6. Guidance for legal professionals, and what SRPs can expect from lawyers;

 7. Notice of McKenzie Friends; these are people who volunteer to assist unrepresented  parties. (Editor’s Note:  This concept, unknown in the US, will be the focus of a future post)

 8. Introducing a code of conduct for McKenzie Friends;

 9. Freeing up in-house lawyers to provide pro bono services; and

 10. A call for leadership from major advice and pro bono agencies across England and Wales to drive collaboration.

The report also makes medium term recommendations:

a) A systematic review should be undertaken of court leaflets, forms and information, involving consultation with experts in the field;

 b) Making a primary website available that pulls together and maintains the best independent guidance;

 c) Increasing the number of courts that offer Personal Support Units and information officers to assist SRPs;

 d) Producing a user-friendly guide to the Small Claims Court;

 e) Improving access to legal advice;

f) Developing Law works early electronic advice for SRPs and agencies;

 g) Finding new means of funding the administration of pro bono and other voluntary legal services;

 h) Offering surgeries and after-hours court information sessions for SRPs;

 i) Keeping records of numbers and circumstances of SRPs, and ensuring court user committees address their needs; and

 j) Reviewing the question of access to appeals after refusals by a judge on the ‘paper’ application.

Longer term recommendations were as follows:

 1. Developing arrangements for mediation and early neutral evaluation when SRPs are involved in a case;

2. Developing Public Legal Education;

3. Further developing pro bono advice and assistance;

4. Research-based improvements to the small claims process; and

5. A study of other forms of procedure for SRP cases e.g. holding hearings in community centres, capping costs.

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About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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2 Responses to Civil Justice Council of England and Wales Report and Recommendations on Self-Represented Litigants

  1. Pingback: Non-Lawyer Practice — Moving the New York Discussion Forward | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

  2. Pingback: Top Ten Court ADR Developments in 2011, Trends for 2012 « Just Court ADR

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