The CJC working group anticipates in its report, Access to justice for Litigants in Person, that litigants in person will become “the rule rather than the exception” as a result of cuts in legal aid and reduced public funding for advice agencies.  “Every informed prediction is that … the number of self-represented litigants will increase, and on a considerable scale,” it says.

It notes that the civil justice system is “designed for lawyers”. Consequently, “it is hard to overstate just how difficult it can be – for the person, for the court, and for other parties – when someone self-represents”.  It makes ten recommendations for immediate action, including improving online resources, producing a ‘nutshell’ guide for self-represented litigants, advising judges on the availability of pro bono services, drafting guidance for court staff and lawyers on dealing with self-represented litigants, introducing a code of conduct for McKenzie Friends and freeing up in-house lawyers to provide pro bono services.

The CJC group’s longer-term recommendations range from increasing the number of personal support units at courts to promoting public legal education.   Robin Knowles QC, chair of the working group, said: “It is impossible to overstate how important it is for people to have access to justice in a free society.”

Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls and CJC chair, said: “It seems clear that there will be increases in the number of litigants in person wanting to use the courts and requiring practical assistance.

“The report produces a very comprehensive overview of the issues likely to arise, and offers some ideas for how best those issues can be addressed given the financial context we are operating within.”