A surge in the number of DIY litigants has prompted legal profession leaders to publish guidance to help lawyers deal with unrepresented litigants.

The 28-page guide, produced by the Bar Council, Law Society and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, told lawyers to adopt a “professional, co-operative and courteous approach” to litigants in person (LiPs).

It said lawyers should “communicate clearly” and “avoid any technical language or legal jargon” that might intimidate and antagonise already disadvantaged litigants.

Lawyers are further advised to “avoid using inflammatory words or phrases that suggest or cause a dispute where there is none, or inflame a dispute, and avoid expressing any personal opinions on the LiP’s behaviour”.

The guide assists lawyers on how to help LiPs without putting themselves in breach of their duties to their own client. It deals with issues including correspondence, telephone calls, drafting and adjournments.

Chairman of the Bar, Alistair MacDonald QC, said: “The people who lose out most from the rising tide of litigants in person are the litigants themselves.

“It is one of the worst outcomes of the legal aid cuts that people facing major life events such as a family break up, have little choice but to put their case alone and without legal support or representation.”