Litigants in person—family proceedings
Litigants in person—family proceedings

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Litigants in person—family proceedings
  • Principles
  • Practice points
  • Costs
  • Resources

Following the changes to the availability of legal aid in family proceedings made by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPOA 2012) in 2013 (see Practice Note: Eligibility for family legal aid—Availability of legal aid), the number of litigants in person has increased. In a speech on twenty-first century family law the then President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, said:

'In the courtroom we must adapt our processes to the new world of those who, not through choice, have to act as litigants in person.'

Key findings in a Ministry of Justice report, Litigants in person in private family law proceedings (November 2014), were that:

  1. the majority of litigants in person in the study's sample were in person because they were ineligible for, or had been unable to obtain, legal aid, but could not afford legal representation—only around one-quarter were in person because they had wholly or partially chosen to be so

  2. around half of the litigants in person had had legal representation or advice at some stage during their case

  3. almost all of the litigants in person had difficulties with court procedures and the legal issues involved in their case, and around half were personally vulnerable in some way, which made negotiation of the legal and procedural requirements of self-representation more difficult

  4. litigants in person appeared