Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Represent yourself in court . New books tells you how

The cuts in legal aid announced by the Government in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will force more and more people to represent themselves, often reluctantly, in complex, serious and potentially life-changing court proceedings, says the author of new book on the subject. Those now falling outside the legal aid scheme could include someone accused of domestic violence in the midst of a family dispute, perhaps over contact with children, claims Lucy Reed.

Lucy Reed, a practising family law barrister and author of a recently published book aimed at helping litigants in person in family proceedings, claims: “The exclusion of many family cases from the scope of legal aid will force more people to have to represent themselves in court. This will include people trying to respond to serious allegations of physical violence or sexual abuse against a former partner or child, and where the decisions being taken could have a lifelong impact on their relationship with their children.”

Even more worryingly, Lucy adds that “A parent making an allegation of abuse will be able to obtain legal aid, but the parent on the receiving end will not, even though the allegations may not be true.

“This could lead to “inequality of arms” where one party is forced to fall back on doing it themselves while the other side in the dispute has access to the knowledge, resources and experience of a qualified legal representative.

The changes were announced in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill published yesterday.

Lucy Reed has written a book called: Family Courts without a Lawyer: A Handbook for Litigants in Person which is published by Bath Publishing. An associated website,  www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk is now on line. The site contains working documents and resources referred to in the book

FACTFILE:

- A litigant in person is the term used for those representing their case in court without the assistance of a qualified legal representative.

- The author, Lucy Reed, is a barrister at St John's Chambers in Bristol. She is also the author of the well known family law blog, www.pinktape.co.uk.

- Bath Publishing are legal publishers, in print and online, who have been providing information to family lawyers and others working in family justice since 2005. They founded, developed, managed and subsequently sold (in 2010) a leading online resource for the industry, www.familylawweek.co.uk

Details about the book:
Family Courts without a Lawyer: A Handbook for Litigants in Person
Price: £29.00
336 pages
Website: Readers also have access to updates, useful documents and other resources on the accompanying website, www.nofamilylawyer.co.uk


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