Judges want help for litigants

A more systematic approach to the provision of pro bono legal services by barristers and solicitors is needed to increase support for litigants in person, the Judges Council says.

The council has released a package of recommendations to assist people representing themselves in legal actions.

It based its recommendations on a report by Lord Justice Otton's working party, which sought solutions to problems faced by litigants in person whose numbers have, in recent years, increased in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Litigants in person have a lower success rate in proceedings than those with legal representation. Although the council welcomed Lord Woolf's plans for more streamlined procedures, it says more immediate steps need to be taken.

The council also recommends an enhanced, independent, free advisory service and an examination of the appellate process.

Labour's legal affairs spokesman Paul Boateng has backed the report.