Marked rise in Litigant’s in Person (LiP’s) are a key challenge for family lawyers

The rise in the number of LiPs in the Family Court since the 2013 legal aid reforms has topped a poll of the causes of discontent and concern among family law practitioners for the fifth year running. The annual matrimonial survey by Grant Thornton found one in five of the family lawyers it consulted named the rise of LiPs as being the biggest single issue facing their legal practice. Other central issues were overburdening of the family courts, delays resulting from court closures and courts not being fit for purpose. The result came as Lord Judge, the former Lord Chief Justice, speaking on the legal aid proposals of Lord Bach, warned the House of Lords the crisis was eating up judges’ time and building delays into the justice system. He spoke of judges having to “delve through mounds of papers” and disordered bundles put together by inexpert, emotionally-charged and frightened litigants-in-person desperately seeking justice”.  He observed that where there were litigants-in-person on both sides “with the same vast bundles only in a completely different order”, a “concertina effect” was created with delay increasingly being built into the system with cases taking much longer to deal with before at every level of the court with judges working harder but getting through fewer cases.

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