I am seeing an increasing number of people are being litigants in person, representing themselves, both in the court arena and outside of it. Having no legal representation can be daunting and stressful, especially when the other party is represented.
In this article, I share some tips if you find yourself as a litigant in person at court:
- Arrive at court in good time. It can often take time to go through security. Try to take as little with you as possible as if you do not have a bag to search, it may make the process quicker.
- When you get into the court building, find the signing in desk and sign in with an usher. They will inform you who, if anyone, is representing your opponent.
- Anyone representing your opponent should meet with you before the case starts and discuss the case generally to see if you are able to resolve any matters before the hearing starts. Don’t be afraid to disagree with them and put your case across to them.
- You will be called into court by the usher. Once in court, if one of the parties is legally represented, they will usually be asked to explain to the court what the case involves, what the issues are and whether any issues have been agreed or not been resolved.
- The court will hear from you and will decide what to do. It will make an order which is either drafted by the Judge or by the party who has legal representation.
- The draft order should be provided to you before being lodged with the court. It may contain directions such as preparing a statement, obtaining letters from professionals or filing reports and may list the matter for a further hearing. The order should follow a template, which can be checked online. If you feel that the order is not correct, don’t be afraid to ask questions with the person who drafted it as once sealed, whatever has been ordered will become legally binding.
- The order is usually in two parts. It can contain recitals which record the agreement which was reached, if any, at the hearing (which are not legally binding) and confirm what was ordered.
The process both outside of the court arena and at any hearing can often be difficult to navigate as a litigant in person. The court is always available if you have any questions with any part of the process, but they are invariably busy and may say that advice should be sought from a solicitor.
If you find yourself in this situation, we can help and guide you through the process, providing advice and tips which may help you reach agreement and settle any court process, respond to any communication received, help to draft any documents including statements and represent you at any hearing.
Instructing a lawyer will invariably take the stress of the process away from you, which can often be invaluable, enabling you to feel supported and safe in the knowledge that you are doing the best in your case.
If you require any advice, please contact our Family team.