Since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 there has been a large rise in the number of Litigants in person attending family Court cases.

Currently family law cases are taking a considerable amount of time to be heard by the Court due to the increase in the numbers of Litigants in Person who are acting for themselves and we are faced with a family justice system that is at its bursting point and struggling to cope.

When faced with dealing with a Litigant in Person we are committed to dealing with Family Law cases in a none confrontational and constructive way. However when a Litigant in person is their opponent even the most experienced Family Lawyer may face a number of different emotions.

If you find yourself involved in a case involved in a case where your opponent is a Litigant in person there are a number of publications which are extremely useful and should be consulted by any Family Lawyer who has a Litigant in Person as their opponent.

The Law Society produced a practice note in 2012 to assist Solicitors dealing with Litigants in person, this includes an obligation note to take unfair advantage of an opposing parties lack of legal knowledge.

Resolution have produced a paper guide “to good practice working with litigants in person”. This has recently been updated and provides valuable guidance.

Some Litigants in person will send multiple emails everyday. Should you respond to each and every one? Should you involve your client in each and everyone, these are all issues that need to be considered by us. Many client’s may not understand that we cannot simply ignore their former partner’s letters/emails/phone calls. There is also the question of the new Court direction introduced this year in relation to Court bundles (which requires a Court bundle prepared for every Hearing, even if it is only a short 10 minute review Hearing). Additional work may fall to your client, as the represented party, to prepare the Court bundle.

It is vital therefore that your client is aware, right from the beginning of your case of all the work you are obliged to do as this will inevitably mean higher costs for them.

As Family Lawyers we should all be doing our best to achieve workable solutions for our clients whilst always bearing in mind the effect that any relationship break up has upon the parties children.

For further information please contact Ringrose Law Solicitors in Lincoln, Boston, Grantham, Sleaford, Spalding & Newark.

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