Here, look, there’s a Handbook for Litigants in Person. Written by judges, it’s actually a handbook for Litigants in Person in ‘substantial’ multi track cases. This is something which should be on its cover.
Now I write this post with a certain ambivalence. No one likes to criticise well intentioned help, especially when it comes from a suite of experienced judges, and is prefaced by the Master of the Rolls. One of the outcomes of the LASPO cuts is panic and after panic there is pro bono. This is a Guide written by hard pressed judges, in their spare time no doubt, and from people who are not used to thinking about court proceedings from the perspective of the litigant in person.
For all the enormous effort that must have gone into it, this needs a good edit and possibly a fundamental rethink. The history lessons could go for a start. As could the digs at claims managers and no win no fee lawyers and the Court of Appeal (I think the latter is a kind of pointed joke). The choice of personal pronouns gets two types of airings to tackle gender war and the tricky balancing of information and advice. And I am not sure even the “reputable solicitor or direct access barrister” will welcome the news that they will “often bring cases for a success fee of 10% or 20%” but I might be wrong.
I suspect I am not alone on the edit though. There is this couple of sentences early in the guide which speak volumes:
It [the Guide] takes the form it does after much discussion and, in some measure, through the insistence of the Editor-in-Chief. Complaints and suggestions for improvement should be sent to him.
No address for correspondence is given. Wildys’ (the legal booksellers) phone number is (if LiPs want to find out the law they are advised to buy second hand student text books). Perhaps we could give them a ring…
Richard Zorza has a much more positive take on the document here. I agree with him about the headlines.