Taking your case to court? Take advice first.

Increasing numbers of people are representing themselves in court, yet only 45% say they understand what is said there.

Jones & Co Solicitors is advising anyone planning to go it alone to at least take some early professional advice. Many people handling their own case in court find themselves trying to do the job of a qualified dispute resolution lawyer without the training or knowledge.

James Murray, Head of Dispute Resolution at Jones & Co Solicitors: “Since big changes were made to legal aid, many people have been unable to get free access to a lawyer, so growing numbers are representing themselves in all kinds of ways, from fighting to keep their homes to keeping custody of their children. Many are doing this while dealing with difficult personal circumstances.”

A study into those who represent themselves in court, known as ‘litigants in person’, by the University of Birmingham, has shown that two-thirds of the almost 200 people they surveyed did not have A-levels and one quarter had no formal qualifications at all. Only 45% of people said they had understood what was said in court and 22% did not have English as a first language.

James says that having a qualified solicitor on your side is the best way to success, but if litigants cannot fund this, they should at least invest in some initial advice before going ahead.

James: “For litigants-in-person who have no legal training, going to court can be a difficult and confusing process. Many may not understand court directions and or know how to follow court timelines. They may use the wrong points of law to argue their case or may misunderstand the law, and they may have the wrong idea on which legal issues are relevant to their case.

“The best course of action for anyone considering going to court is to at least have one appointment with a qualified lawyer before you begin. This could help to resolve the issue without the need for costly court hearings, which many litigants prefer. But where court hearings are necessary, the right advice will help litigants-in-person to avoid unnecessary delays and costs. While professional advice is not free of charge, it makes all the difference. Many solicitors like Jones & Co offer fixed fees, which give litigants in person greater certainty about costs, as well as a greater understanding of their case.”

For more advice please contact your nearest branch of Jones & Co Solicitors in Retford, Bawtry or Ollerton, or visit our ‘contact us‘ page.