The Law Society, the Bar Council and CILEx have developed guidelines for lawyers who come up against people representing themselves in court 

A surge in the number of people representing themselves in court has prompted legal organisations to draft guidelines for lawyers, offering advice for dealing with litigants in person (LiPs).

The guidelines have been developed by the Bar Council, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and the Law Society in response to the rising numbers of LiPs as a result of cuts to legal aid, the increase in the small-claims limit and the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

The practical guidelines are relevant to the civil and family courts and tribunals where there has been an influx of people who cannot afford to instruct a lawyer, have not been able to obtain free legal advice and often have no alternative other than to embark on ‘do it yourself’ justice.

The guidelines discuss how far lawyers can help unrepresented people without this conflicting with their duties to their own clients. Lawyers are advised to communicate clearly and avoid technical language or legal jargon, or to explain jargon to the unrepresented party where it cannot be avoided.