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Legal representation in family matters and the reform of legal aid: a research note on current practice [2012] CFLQ 223

Date:21 SEP 2012

When the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 is implemented, private family matters will, with some exceptions, cease to be eligible for publicly funded legal advice and representation in court, and it is expected that the number of unrepresented litigants appearing in court will increase. This note reviews the existing research on litigants in person and reports data from an ongoing study of the family judiciary in the lower courts. It indicates the possibilities that potential litigants could be dissuaded from pursuing a case, that those who do proceed could take more court time as they are unfamiliar with procedure or what constitutes a justiciable issue, and that some cases may fold as the litigant gives up. In addition, a number of cases may be adjourned as a result of the litigant in person failing to appear, thus requiring relisting.

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