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Topic:
Is it possible to represent yourself in court? (5 Posts)
Started By:
Date:
17 July, 2017 10:10AM
Is it possible to represent yourself in court?
AFrustratedBecky - 17 July, 2017 10:10AM
Hello,

My solicitor advised me it would be best to "sack" him, his words not mine, as it would not be ideal to get him to represent me in court due to costs. I completely respect his advice.

I understand court can be very stressful and costly, I am now at the stage where i have been left with no other choice but to start proceedings.

We tried mediation once but he refused to return and said he would prefer to negotiate via our solicitors. We both made offers but we were too far out and neither of us would negotiate further. He later agreed to voluntarily disclose his financial position, but he has since stopped responding to our letters. Its been over two months since I have heard anything from his solicitor.

Has anyone else tried DIY? I have a feeling he will hire a solicitor if we were to go to court so I will be up against a professional. Does anyone experiences they could share with me or any useful information on how to do it yourself?

thank you
Re: Is it possible to represent yourself in court?
jill_of_all_trades - 17 July, 2017 05:01PM
Just avoided court so no personal experience. Suggest you prepare a spreadsheet of assets and liabilities and collect supporting evidence as far as you can. Put together a file of the offers and responses. Then pay for an hour of your solicitors' time so you can be talked through the process and be given ideas as to how to present it.

It might also be worth asking if there is a newly qualified solicitor in the firm who could go into court with you at a lesser cost..
Re: Is it possible to represent yourself in court?
Bubblegum - 17 July, 2017 06:52PM
It is doable? - yes!
Would I recommend it? - probably not unless it really is your only option.

Ultimately, how well you do will depend on the nature of your case and your ability.

What is the net worth of the marital pot? It sounds like from what your solicitor has said, that it would not be worth it with legal representation.

I was a litigant in person, but I did use a barrister for Court. There was a lot of learning, reading, organising and preparation involved. And even with this, things did get missed somewhere along the process. Obviously, if I had to go back and do it all over again, I'd do things better and more efficiently. Don't get me wrong, I did pretty damn well considering I'd never been to court before in my life!

Don't underestimate the pressure and stress of going to court as a LIP. It will be a very steep learning curve and there will be oversights - we can't be expected to know everything lawyers know! The Judges are generally tolerant and forgiving of LIP's not knowing correct process etc.

There are other options to being a fully represented or a complete LIP. Explore these and see if you can maybe set aside some money to get advice when you most need it. Consider (cost permitting) direct public access barristers (especially for a final hearing), unbundled solicitor services for ad hoc advice, using a McKenzie Friend - *Don't* take legal advice from one! - but they can be helpful in understanding court process and familiarity. Use on-line resources, familiarise yourself with the FPR 2010 and the MCA 1973. Read some case law which contains precedents for yours. I found case summaries were easy to digest and rather interesting.

Accept that you will never be an expert in family law (no matter how much you read up and research it). But you can be an expert in your case. No one will know it better than you and use that as your strength.

Despite the fact that you are at a disadvantage as an unrepresented party going up against someone who has legal representation, the other sides lawyer will explain things to you in Court as will the Judge.The advantage of being a LIP is that;
(a) It is extremely rewarding IF things do go your way!
(b) You stand to save yourself a shed load of money
(c) You are in control and know what is happening and can take immediate action

I know plenty of people who have self rep'd and got a decent outcome that they were happy with. I also know a few who made a right mess of things and were too emotional and lacked objectivity and ended up with costs orders against them or less than the settlement they were offered before going to court! The smart thing to do is to know when you are out of your depth and ask for help. So I would certainly set aside at least a small budget for legal advice should you become stuck.

Good luck!!
Re: Is it possible to represent yourself in court?
AFrustratedBecky - 18 July, 2017 10:13AM
fantastic advice, thank you so much.

I have learnt a lot during 2 years of separation but have still so much more to learn before I go ahead with proceedings.

He is divorcing me under the grounds of adultery. As ashamed as I am to admit that, it is what it is and is something I am paying for very much so and of course so is he. He is definitely bitter about the whole thing and will do all he can to drag this out as long as he can. He is living in our marital home and I am currently living in my parents home. He earns 2.5 x more than I do so he is sitting quite comfortably right now.

The pot is £50k. It may seem measly but for me it would make a big difference to my life.

Perhaps I am being a little naive here but I am fairly confident that the court would award me with what I am asking for. 50% of the equity from our jointly owned home, clean break.



How long were each of your hearings Bubblegum? Who attended your 3 hearings?
I am guessing you are happy with the outcome... if so, congratulations! It isn't easy going through this and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Thanks again for your very detailed advice. I will certainly take that on board and start studying immediately.
Re: Is it possible to represent yourself in court?
Bubblegum - 18 July, 2017 06:58PM
From Form A to Final Hearing the process took just over 12 months. But that is rather quick compared to others. I think having a barrister at the hearings helped as he knew exactly what directions to ask for and how to move the case along and get disclosure from my ex. My FA was about two hours long. Most people say they are in and out in about 20 minutes! The FDR was ineffectual as my ex failed to show up. So my barrister sought directions and asked that the case be listed for FH, which it was. Within days of the of FH my ex signed a Consent Order agreeing to what I wanted. The two day final hearing was adjourned that very morning and the Consent Order was submitted. I still incurred full costs of a barrister for representation at a hearing that was cancelled. In total I spent around £10k on barrister costs. The barrister did do some additional drafting work as and when needed. I did get a costs order for the FDR but I don't expect I will be able to recover any money from my ex.

I'd say if your case is not too complicated, you can self rep at the First appointment - just give some thought to the questionnaires and directions sought. See how you get on and you can review your position as a LIP ahead of the FDR. I don't think being a LIP at a Final Hearing is wise. So if you have only limited funds for legal help - save them for a possible FH.

The problem I found with DA Barristers was that you have to pay a non refundable brief fee for each hearing approximately three weeks before the hearing. Then if for whatever reason that hearing does not go ahead you lose your money and will have to pay it all over again.

My ex was very difficult but after making me pay out for three court hearings he finally settled at the WP offer I had made before starting court proceedings. So a year of stress and £10k spent for him to be able to punish me and use the Courts to hurt me. still, I stuck with it and got the outcome I needed in the end.

You do learn to appreciate what lawyers do and value their expertise after being a LIP.eye popping smiley
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