There was an interesting comment in this week’s Law Society Gazette from a reader about the lack of support for unrepresented litigants. The person writing, was writing as a litigant in person who had represented herself in the County Court.
It was a response to the news about proposed Court Advice Centres (see our article here).
Her comments raise an interesting point about the availability of information to unrepresented litigants. The whole purpose of our site is to help people understand and deal with small claims litigation. But should there be a need for our site in the first place? If the court system itself was providing the information freely and easily accessible, perhaps not?
Public libraries are useful but the danger is that many text books are out of date and written for students and lawyers, rather than the inexperienced court user. Out of debt text books on the law can be very dangerous indeed, especially out of date copies of the White Book (the civil procedure rules and guidance notes which lawyers and Judges tend to refer to).
The books that tend to be in libraries also concentrate on the case law and legislation, rather than procedure and practical resolutions to disputes.
The writer’s criticism was that even public libraries, were more use than the court buildings themselves. Whilst there is free information out there online, finding it can be difficult.
Our view is that there should be access to justice and the courts should be used by the public as and when necessary. Not being able to use the courts because of a lack of understanding or affordability, is a poor state of affairs.