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Do litigants in person have an unfair advantage?

Date:3 FEB 2017
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It has been very clear for some time that the number of litigants in person (LIPs) appearing before the civil and family courts without legal representation has increased significantly. The catalyst has been the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 which took many civil and private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid in England and Wales from 1 April 2013.

Recent government statistics confirm that in 34% of private law disputes neither party has the benefit of legal representation from either a barrister or a solicitor. This means that many such litigants are not afforded the right to legal advice understanding or justice. But does this balance itself out elsewhere within the process?

The Court of Appeal in the case of Agarwala v  Agarwala [2016] EWCA Civ 1252 raised fresh concerns about the direct impact of litigants of person on the judiciary. The matter before the court related to appeal arising from a family dispute over an interest in a property and I will trouble the reader no further with the specifics of the case but more particularly with the...

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