Litigant in Person [LiP]
In England and Wales, both the claimant and defendant has a right to administer and represent themselves in a court proceeding and they are classed as a Litigant in Person or LiP.
The LiP can be an individual, company or organisation that has rights of audience (a right of audience being, the right to address the court). The LiP can instruct a barrister, through the Public Access Scheme, however, it does not prevent the LiP [on whose behalf the barrister had been instructed] from being a Litigant in Person.
It is not advisable to embark on a trial of issues without having any legal knowledge. However, with appropriate legal guidance, your costs can be reduced so that litigants have their day in court. This explained, it is therefore possible for LiP to have access to the legal system and achieve victory against the most well-represented opponents, if they act correctly and have just regard for logic, the law and are able to advance the issues in a manner acceptable to the court.
During the process, it is possible for LiPs in England and Wales to obtain “free” legal assistance from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). However, in more bespoke law like timeshare, long-term holiday products and leisure credits you would use the assistance of an experienced solicitor of a paralegal service provider such as TESS Paralegal Services Ltd.
The equivalent in Scotland is a party litigant and in the United States is pro se legal representation.
Litigant in Person, Costs, Help and Advice
Should a consumer receive paid assistance, the consumer should be able to recover those costs from your opponents if you win. Furthermore, in civil cases, LiPs can claim £19 per hour for time they spend working on their case (or their actual financial loss, if this can be proved to be greater). LiPs can also claim for expenses such as photocopying and as stated any advice or expert assistance they have paid for.
It is important for LiPs to record the type of work they have conducted, time spent on the case, and the expenses they have incurred. If and when the LiP receives free legal advice, they should ask the adviser to record their time and what they did in order to claim a separate “pro bono” costs order.
If the LiP’s case does go to court and if it is successful, the LiP will be required to hand a record of costs to the judge. The judge may be able to order the other side to pay costs to the LiP and pro bono costs where free legal advice was given. The judge will assess the costs, however is not obliged to order the other side to pay costs if those costs are inflated, disproportionate or for any other reason. There is an entitlement to costs and that right is conveyed in CPR 46.5 and 45.39(5) which effectively provides the right to claim reasonable costs for work done or disbursements which would have been allowed had there been paid legal representation. In PD 46.3 this provides an entitlement to charge an hourly rate of £19 per hour for individuals (who cannot prove actual financial loss) for time spent on their cases. That all said claims cannot be for more than two-thirds of the amount that would have been allowed if represented by a lawyer.
Reference: The Access to Justice Foundation www.atjf.org.uk