Monday, 17 September 2007

Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau

This is based at the Royal Courts of Justice. The RCJ Advice Bureau is run by lawyers in conjunction with the Citizens Advice Bureau and is independent of the court. They provide free, confidential, impartial legal and procedural advice and assistance to everyone regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or disability.

There are two branches

1. Royal Courts of Justice - Monday - Friday 10am and 2pm - 4.30pm.
2. Principle Registry of the Family Division Monday - Friday 10am - 1.00pm and 2pm - 4.30pm

All details are on their website
James Banks
Bureau Director
RCJ Advice Bureau
Principal Registry of the Family Division
4th Floor, First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NP

Advice line 08451203715
Vouce Mail 02079476880


The Civil Procedure Rules are available at the Department For Constitutional Affairs. Essentially, they are the rules by which all court staff ( judges, solicitors and barristers work by). It is essentially a rule book. More information is found on Wikipaedia.
The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) govern the way in which court cases are conducted in England and Wales. They were introduced in April 1999 with the aim of enabling courts in England and Wales to deal with cases justly and streamlining the civil justice process by resolving as many cases as possible without resorting to court proceedings. The Civil Procedure Rules replace the Rules of the Supreme Court 1965 and County Court Rules 1981.
Others are
The Blue Book is also available for purchase from the online TSO bookshop.


Litigants in person
Unrepresented litigants in first instance proceedings

Executive Summary

This report explores detailed quantitative and qualitative data on unrepresented litigants from four courts in first instance civil and family cases, excluding small claims cases. It provides a detailed picture of the prevalence and nature of unrepresented litigants and the impact of non-representation on themselves, the courts and their opponents. The main findings are:

1. Unrepresented parties in cases were common. It was usually defendants and not claimants/applicants who were unrepresented. Obsessive/difficult litigants were a very small minority of unrepresented litigants generally, but posed considerable problems for judges and court staff.

2. A large part of the reason for non-representation, especially in civil cases, was in fact non-participation. Some unrepresented litigants were in fact partially represented. Although there was evidence that significant numbers of unrepresented litigants had some advice on, or assistance with, their case, the evidence suggested this help was ad hoc.

3. A small but significant proportion of cases involved at least one active party who was unrepresented throughout the life of their case. Cases where both parties were unrepresented were rare. There were variations in non-representation by types of case and litigant. Some unrepresented litigants indicated vulnerability.

4. Although sometimes less serious and less heavily contested than cases involved in represented litigants, what was at stake for litigants was nevertheless significant. Parties go unrepresented for a range of reasons including choice and the lack of free or affordable representation.

5. There is little evidence of an explosion in the numbers of litigants in person, though the situation is unclear in the family courts.

6. Participation by unrepresented litigants is not the same as active defence. Levels of activity suggested cases involving unrepresented litigants may have involved more court-based activity than those cases where all parties were represented. Within cases involving unrepresented parties, participation by unrepresented litigants was generally of a lower intensity than participation by represented parties.

7. The bulk of participation took place via the court office not the court room.

8. Unrepresented litigants participated at a lower intensity but made more mistakes. Problems faced by unrepresented litigants demonstrated struggles with substantive law and procedure. There was other evidence of prejudice to their interests.

9. There was at best only modest evidence that cases involving unrepresented litigants took longer, though cases with unrepresented parties were less likely to be settled.

10. Some courts and local advice providers may be more welcoming to, or encouraging of, unrepresented litigants than others. Courts were not confident signposters of unrepresented litigants to alternative sources of help.

11. Judges recognised that unrepresented litigants posed a challenge to the ‘passive arbiter’ model of judging and responded to that challenge with varying degrees of intervention. Court staff recognised unrepresented litigants’ needs but were unsure of what help was permissible because of the way the ‘no advice’ rule was managed.

12. Court staff and judges perceived that improvements could be made in the way that unrepresented litigants were handled.