Report on litigants in person finally published after a year

Family Law|December 1st 2014

A report on litigants in person commissioned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been published more than a year after its completion.

Litigants in person in private family law cases examined the problems faced by people who pursue or take part in legal action without a lawyer, normally because they cannot afford the costs in the wake of cuts to legal aid. It featured contributions from academics at the Universities of Exeter, Bristol, Kent, Cambridge and Cardiff and was based on an examination of more than 150 cases.

In September last year, the report’s authors submitted a summary of their findings to Ministry, but the report remained unpublished until last week.

Key recommendations of the newly published report include a re-evaluation of all legal forms, leaflets and documentation in relation to the needs of litigants in person (LIPs); the establishment of a single family court website aimed at LIPs; and that judges be encouraged to give verbal guidance and instruction on the legal process to LIPs. In addition the report calls for a new right for LIPs to take a single friend or family member into court with them without the need to formally submit a CV, as well as greater access to ‘exceptional case’ legal funding for ‘private’ (individual) family law cases.

The report was critical of McKenzie Friends (MFs), informal courtroom advisors who sometimes offer their services for a fee. The authors declare:

“Overall, although the potential value of a supporter should not be discounted, it is doubtful whether formal MFs (particularly paid MFs) are clearly of sufficient value to justify a charge for their services.”

Read the report here.

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  1. Nick Langford says:

    The criticism of McKenzie Friends was based on a sample of two plus some anecdotes – hardly representative. That says far more about Trinder than it does about McKenzies.

  2. Yvie says:

    When did a sample of 2 constitute ‘research’.

  3. George Statingfield says:

    The reports criticisms of pro MF’s was based on listening to what Lawyers reported – Vested interests indeed!

    The head of the research has had previous fallouts with a leading shared parenting charities MF’s who have criticised her research on shared parenting – Payback time, one suspects.

    The rest of the research authors all earn their monies by teaching Lawyers – They will of course be very protective of a system that keeps Lawyers at the forefront.

    What a waste of money and resources from the MOJ by funding the vested interests in keeping the system in place to do a report, with no change for the consumers and those who have to use the system.

  4. Nordic says:

    It is incredible how much “research” is simply dressed-up opinion making and lobbying by vested interests. As to the authors’ conclusion, in my view you could replace “formal MPs” and “Paid MPs” with “family law solicitors”.

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