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Going it alone: facing the family court without legal representation

The growing numbers of litigants in person in the family courts is having a major impact on the dispute resolution process in general and on those involved in particular, including lawyers, says Carla Ditz

6 March 2019

Litigants in person in the family courts are an ever-increasing category of individuals. According to the latest Ministry of Justice statistics, covering April – June 2018 and published last September, the proportion of disposals where neither the applicant nor respondent had legal representation was 38 per cent, an increase of 21 percentage points in five years.

With the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) in April 2013, many individuals found themselves no longer entitled to public funding for their case which, for most, meant having to navigate the court process alone.

What was already an overwhelming and confusing personal situation was then made worse by the fact that suddenly, individuals were facing the family court with no knowledge of how it worked nor their legal rights. The situation has not changed nearly six years on.

On 7 February 2019, the government published its long-awaited post-implementati...

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