Representing yourself in court
The Bar Council represents all barristers in England and Wales.
We believe access to justice is a fundamental part of the
rule of law. Whether people use barristers' services or not,
we believe we have a responsibility to explain and demystify the
legal system to anyone who comes into contact with it.
We have produced a guide to help you on your legal journey,
which has been written by barristers, who have extensive
experience across all courts and understand how the system
Click here to
access the Guide
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
This Guide looks to help 'litigants-in-person' through their
legal journey, which can be a very daunting, complicated and
Impacts of the LASPO Act
On 1 April 2013, the Legal Aid,
Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into force.
This 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. If you have a
legal problem there is now more chance that you will have to
guidance for lawyers when dealing with litigants in
A surge in the number of people representing themselves in court
has prompted legal organisations to draft guidelines for lawyers
who come up against people who find themselves in court without
In June 2015, these guidelines were published by the Bar
Council, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and the Law
Society in response to the rising numbers of people representing
themselves in court without a lawyer as a result of cuts to legal
aid, the increase in the small-claims limit and the introduction of
employment tribunal fees.
Whilst these guidelines are specifically for lawyers, there is
accompanying notes for litigants in person to help those
representing themselves understand what to expect (and what you
cannot expect) from the lawyer for the other side in court
Read these notes
For more information on how to read the Guide to
Representing Yourself in Court, what it covers, and the authors,
click through the tabs below.
This Guide is an online tool. Hardcopies can be
found in your local MP office, 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
How to read the Guide
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.
What the Guide covers
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
Personal injury law
Property ownership in relationship breakdowns
Public law and Judicial Review
Bankruptcy and debt law
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.
Authors of the Guide
This Guide was written by barristers who specialise in different areas of law and who have a lot of experience in all kinds of courts.
All Sections of the Guide have been drafted and by junior barristers and QCs.
Section 1: Harriet Deane and Sarah Tavakoli
Section 2, Part 1: Putting together your case - Karen Shuman
Section 2, Part 2: Starting and defending a claim - Adam Gadd and Charles Cory-Wright QC
Section 3: Representing yourself in court: On the day - Hannah Slarks, Javan Herberg QC and Robin Knowles QC
Section 4: Areas of law:
Personal injury law - Adam Gadd and Charles Cory-Wright QC
Employment Tribunal - Craig Rajgopaul and Lydia Banerjee
Immigration Tribunals - Alasdair MacKenzie
Family law - Louise Brown, Geoffrey Kingscote and Nicholas Cusworth QC
Property ownership in relationship breakdowns - Miranda Allardice
Public law and Judicial Review - Hannah Slarks, Chris Knight and Javan Herberg QC
Housing law - Justin Bates
Bankruptcy and debt law - Eleanor Holland and Sharif Shivji
Glossary of terms - Jane Rayson, Diane Sechi and Andrew Hillier.
Thanks also to the Working Group Editing Team: Michael Kent QC, Javan Herberg QC, Robin Knowles QC, Rebecca Wilkie, Andrew Stafford QC and Eleanor Holland.