Representing yourself in court

Click here to access the Guide

This is an online tool. Hardcopies are not readily available and we are not able to hand these out individually. However, hardcopies can be found in your local MP surgery, in Citizen Advice Bureaus, Advice UK centres, law centres and Personal Support Units. Should you still have difficulites accessing a copy of the Guide, please contact the Bar Council press office.

LASPO - will you now have to represent yourself in court? 

On 1 April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force. It means that fewer people now have access to free legal representation than at any time since legal aid (state funding for legal advice and representation) was introduced. This means that if you have a legal problem there is now more chance that you will have to represent yourself. 

A Guide

The Bar Council represents all barristers in England and Wales. We believe that access to justice matters. Whether people use barristers' services or not, we think we have a responsibility to explain and demystify the legal system to anyone who comes into contact with it. We have produced a Guide - click here - to help you on your legal journey, which has been written by barristers, who have lots of experience in all kinds of different courts and understand how the system works.

The number of people who do not qualify for legal aid, but equally cannot afford representation, is growing. These people are called 'litigants-in-person' (LIPs) or, as they were previously known; 'self-representing litigants' (SRLs). They will have to go to court (to 'litigate') without a lawyer, and will have to represent themselves.

This Guide looks to help 'litigants-in-person' through their legal journey, which can be a very daunting, complicated and expensive experience. 

How to read it

We recommend that you use the first three, general, Sections to familiarise yourself with how the legal process works, how to prepare your case, and if you have to go to court, what you should expect and be aware of. Then go to the relevant part to your case in the final Section (Section 4). If you have a case which does not fall under Section 4, the first three sections will still be helpful. Remember that different areas of law, and different courts, have different procedures. This means that not all the general guidance in the first three Sections will be applicable to all types of case. Try to do as much research as you can, using the resources we suggest in this Guide.

The Guide will cover:

  • Section 1: How to find free or affordable help with your legal problem

  • Section 2, Part 1: Putting together your case

  • Section 2, Part 2: Starting and defending a claim

  • Section 3: Representing yourself in court: On the day

  • Section 4: Areas of law
  1. Personal injury law

  2. Employment Tribunal

  3. Immigration Tribunals

  4. Family law

  5. Property ownership in relationship breakdowns

  6. Public law and Judicial Review

  7. Housing law

  8. Bankruptcy and debt law 

  • Glossary of terms

We hope this Guide is useful, and helps you to understand how the justice system should work fairly and openly for everyone who comes into contact with it.