Help for LIPs

In October, Simon Hughes announced that the Government would be providing help for LIPs (Litigants In Person; that is, unrepresented claimants or defendants). The Government have pledged to create a network of advice centres within court buildings to help people who are running their own cases.

This has been prompted largely by the explosion of unrepresented family court litigants following the almost complete elimination of legal aid for matrimonial cases. The courts are choking with people trying to enforce their rights without legal help and, because they are unrepresented and therefore have no legal advice, thousands of cases are taking longer, significantly increasing the workload for the courts. This applies not only to family work but also small claims – the Government increased the small claims limit last April from £5,000 to £10,000, meaning that much larger and more complex financial disputes must now be run without representation by lawyers, as the legal fees your lawyer would run up in representing you cannot be claimed back even if you are successful in the small claims court.

The announcement that the Government are introducing advice centres is therefore welcome news, but only insofar as people will have advice at court. People need advice before and during the running of a case however, and many believe that the provision of advice centres in courts is nothing more than a sticking plaster on a broken leg.

In disputes over thousands of £s, it is important for people to receive expert legal advice throughout the course of their case. Court fees also increased significantly last year, and for those risking a payment of over £500.00 to the court, just to get their case to hearing, they need more than just some advice in the hour before the trial; they need proper preparation. It is hoped that this will be just the first step in the return of access to justice to the general public. You can read more about this here….

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Dean V Talbot F.C.I.L.Ex.