Judge ‘horrified’ at number of litigants without lawyers

A court of appeal judge has said she is “horrified” at the number of unrepresented litigants and warned that the delays caused will “clog up” the justice system.

Dame Elizabeth Gloster, who was appointed to the court of appeal last year said: “I’m horrified at the number of litigants in person [LIPs]. We are trying to provide them with [help]. The large number of LIPs leads to delay and is going to clog up the system. Cases with unrepresented litigants take longer.”

As many as two-thirds of cases working their way through the family courts now involve at least one side who has no lawyer to provide help, according to the family law organisation Resolution.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “A large number of people have always represented themselves in court – this happened in around half of all private family law cases in 2012 – and we provide information and guidance to help them. Judges also have expertise in supporting them, for example by explaining procedures and what is expected.”