Appeal Judge ‘horrified’ by the number of unrepresented litigants

Family Law|November 24th 2014

The number of unrepresented ‘litigants in person’ (LiPs) appearing in courtrooms has ‘horrified’ an Appeal Court Judge.

Dame Elizabeth Gloster is a former barrister and High Court judge who was appointed to the Court of Appeal last year. At a conference held in London to mark the publication of a survey into morale across the legal profession, she said the courts were trying to help those unable to afford legal representation since major cuts were made to legal aid last year. But she added:

“The large number of LiPs leads to delay and is going to clog up the system. Cases with unrepresented litigants take longer.”

The Judge welcomed the £2 million package of support for unrepresented litigants announced last month by Family Justice Minister Simon Hughes, but said she could no longer recommend that any barrister consider a career in the “publicly funded bar”.

Former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer also appeared at the conference, The Guardian reports. Starmer, also a former barrister, said pro bono [charitable] work by lawyers could not possibly plug the funding gap.

He called on the government to reintroduce legal aid for some issues, citing benefit appeal tribunals as an area of particular need. The process in place for correcting mistaken benefit judgements was “almost impossible”, he said.

“If your benefits are taken away it’s a really serious issue.”

According to the report, an overwhelming 83 per cent of the more than 500 solicitors and barristers surveyed now believe that justice is no longer accessible to all.

Photo by John Halbrook  via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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  1. Name Witheld says:

    These figures are most defiantly true, I have been self litigating for 5 months now and already as a victim of domestic violence it is exhausting. My Ex’s legal team are expensive and harsh to be polite. Money talks in court room and when he has cut his directors salary and put me in hospital that was one thing, but now I am looking at being homeless with my children.
    I have good evidence and have every bank statement and payslip for 18 years. Yet as I am still awaiting legal aid. We owned a business together which I was also unfairly dismissed and currently have my ACAS certificate can not afford legal representation and its not cover by legal aid. He has in 5 months run a £9.3Mil corporate company into the ground to avoid paying a penny for 3 young boys or our home. His trial bundle is manipulated and not fully disclosed. I did manage to obtain a court order regarding the children, yet if my friend had not paid for a barrister for that one day who knows how safe my boys would be.
    CPS and Police forces do not work close enough to ensure convictions. I have appealed 3 arrests
    I was even granted a non-molestation order and occupation order for 12 mths.
    Judges have lack of awareness for the physical and emotion duress woman like me face. They do not appreciate we do not speak legal language (yet!) and should be treated as vulnerable. I am a high risk victim according to Thames valley police.
    I have medical records and police reports but still no conviction. I put up with abuse my whole adult life. He uses his business and family to get to me.
    Now because I called 999 I am looking at being homeless and can not get legal help when It really matters. I started a law degree in Sept, this was frowned upon and life had to change in Oct when he pushed down me the stairs in front of my boys before school. This is something he still denies. Yet my children are having counselling. He ruptured my breast implants that day and further injuries to ribs, arms and hands. Yet no charges for such a successful man. Money Talks….. But the Law needs to change NOW!

  2. Name Witheld says:

    I have been self litigating for 5 months now. I paid for adhoc advice and now cannot even afford that, still awaiting legal aid. As a victim of domestic violence my whole adult life, yet managing/surviving to bring up 3 boys and run a success business, my Ex’s very expensive legal team are trying to make my family homeless, even though I jointly own another property.
    The CPS and Police forces do not work together, I have evidence to this effect due to the full disclosures I have personally obtained. Along with medical record and appeal letters. When I called 999 on the 7.10.14 my life changed yet again, and is a daily battle to borrow money to keep my phone on. Friends and family brought food parcels for Christmas.
    Yet I was part of a multimillion pound corporation which my EX husband owns and runs. He has cut his wages by 100%, and run down at company who do date has turned over £9.3Mil. He employes family to hide money and takes back handers in cash. Yet CPS, Police HMRC, HMCS, NHS, woman’s Aid, and Legal aid cannot help me. He closed all bank account which I was connect too without my permission. Also took family car as was register to his company along with cancelling my phone when I so desperately need it. After working for free for nearly 5 years, to help the business grow. Hi investors and Accountant lied to me.
    I have Non-Molstation & Occupation orders in place for 12 months. Recently under gone major surgery due to injures he has caused me. Yet no charges other than common assault, with a £149 fine, which was also sent to me. I was always threated with being homeless on the streets for years he said he would take my children away, well he managed to manipulate my 15 year boy as I haven’t seen since Christmas day, its so sad for his brothers too are currently both in counselling. I do not have the time for counselling yet as a ‘High Risk Victim’ surely that’s least I should be allowed time for.
    Police have given me business cards with incorrect phone numbers on. I have reported over 10 other offenses since I called 999. Police haven’t even taken full statements and I have reported all this to the PCC. No reply. The NHS failed me and have apologises, yet due to my local MUI department being out sourced they could not comment on my lack on care on 7.10.14.
    I have dealt with criminal, family, finance, personal injury and now employment matters alone. With no income and bailiffs at my door still. I am going to be homeless on 15.2.15 if I do not get an order for earnings on 9.2.15. With no legal support this terrifies me. I am still recovering from various operations and have young children to look after.
    Money Talks & Judges Rule.

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