What could more litigants in person mean for practitioners?
The Law Society has warned that the rising number of litigants in person could have an adverse impact on the civil and family courts system. Andrew Byles of GCN was interviewed for Lexis Nexis Current Awareness (published 8/2/11) about the effect such an increase could have on practitioners.
Extracts from the article as follows:
Andrew Byles says the courts are called upon to decide issues which can have a fundamental and detrimental effect upon the parties appearing before them. He explains: âI have little doubt an increase in the number of litigants in person will often increase the workload of practitioners representing the opposing party and will often cause proceedings to last longer than they otherwise would. This is because courts are reluctant to make decisions that are adverse to litigants in person without first trying to ensure they understand what is going on and have an opportunity to properly participate in the hearing.â
With proceedings involving litigants in person taking longer, there are inevitable cost consequences. He says: âIt is a consequence of the court making the effort to ensure they understand what is going on and can participate.
âIt is also the consequence of litigants in person being unfamiliar with the court process and with them covering every possible point in evidence, cross-examination and submissionsârather than only the relevant points.â