Self Representation in High Court

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by SlimeyToad, Dec 27, 2008.

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  1. A group of like affected persons are considering taking a major UK public body to Court on grounds of discrimination and breach of human rights.

    We could also be joined by similarly affected persons from outside the UK.

    Whilst I don't wish to go into the specifics of the case in public at this point my question relates to us representing ourselves.

    We have taken advice from Counsel and it is believed we have a good case as there are gaping holes in the public body's policies, practices and procedures. There is also case law on our side. However, the cost of obtaining even this small piece of advice was far from small and showed us clearly that the case itself would run into many, many thousands (well in excess of £ 50K and probably near £ 100K and that's if we win - with their grossly over-inflated costs I would dread to think what the total costs bill would be if we lost and had to pay their costs).

    The outcome of this case could have significant implications on international law and would therefore be undoubtedly high profile. As a result we will undoubtedly have a fight on our hands and this could be a drawn out process, again hiking up the costs.

    There are a number of Appeals in process with the public body at the moment and as soon as one of these is refused (as expected) this will be the trigger for the Action, with the other like affected persons being joined as interested parties.

    So, as this case would have to go before the High Court, can we represent ourselves and how would we go about this?
  2. JINGO

    JINGO War Hero Book Reviewer

    I have only seen people represent themselves at Magistrates Court before and then they havent been the sharpest tools in the box. To be honest most of the time they have made a complete hash of it.They are always viewed with resigned amusement by most present.
    Having said that having many times seen the CPS prosecutors in full flow, my own view is that any person of reasonably sound mind with a logical well prepared body of evidence could make a better job of it.
    At Crown court level I would suspect that the body of the court would put more admin/procedural obstructions in the way of those representing themselves. After all it is not in their interests to have the voodoo surrounding the process clarified is it?
    I would think that at High Court level these obstructions will only increase. This is only my humble opinion for what its worth, good luck to you.
  3. There's a saying within the ranks of the legal eagles;

    "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client" !
  4. in_the_cheapseats

    in_the_cheapseats LE Moderator

    Can you not find someone (or a firm) interested in making a name for themselves rather than screwing you? If there are going to be series of appeals, you are going to need council. In the real world, I doubt if you will manage without them.
  5. The problem you'll meet in a High Court is that you'll be up against a Barrister if not a team of Barristers if it is likely to be a high profile case, add to them their retinue of juniors, legal clerks & researchers.

    Although you may be able to cite case law, you probably end up in the legal version of tennis where case bats against case and although you may be given a certain amount of leeway, the Judges hands may be tied if you haven't crossed the T's & dotted the I's properly. Their are certain 'rules' & etiiquette within the judicial system & if you're not careful you may be caught out by the 'off-side' rule so to speak!
  6. Yes, but their motive for uttering such nonsense is their potential loss of earnings from the 'fools' that succeed, not to mention the embarrasment caused when joe bloggs beats them at their own game.

    Judges are duty bound to ensure litigants in person (or whatever they're called these days) understand proceedings and are suprisingly helpful if they get lost, furthermore they (Lips) are privvy to the cosy chats usually reserved for the wig wearers and that gets right up the noses of the other side!

    Go for it OP:)
  7. I know of someone who represented herself in the High Court. It wasn't easy -- masses of preparation, sweat, tears, etc -- but the court staff, including the judge, were very helpful. In the end, she didn't get the complete result she wanted, but she didn't lose the case and wasn't destitute after the process.

    Good luck.
  8. If your case is as good as you believe it to be, why risk it by 'employing' someone who isn't a skilled advocate? Admirable as it all sounds, and I truly wish you luck, you need to sit down with someone who is qualified to discuss this matter with you and to provide you with accurate and honest opinions and guidance on what you should do, if you are serious about the issue you are pursuing. Don't take advice from anyone here unless they have the qualifications and experience to give it, which I doubt very much. Shop around mate. If you win, you won't need to worry about costs. If you lose, Barrister or self-representing, you will. As one poster mentioned, you'll more than likley be up against a team, not one man. They'll have worked out a game plan, and it'll more likely be better than yours. Just wait until you exchange skeletons for proof of that.

    It's a hard call mate, just make sure that the advice you get is the best you can get. All the best, I hope you win either way.
  9. I Agreee with the above

    but if funds are low and you are passionate about your case

    then- self representation (lay litigant) may be the way

    it is only a tactic I would advise if as I say funds are an issue

    the Court staff are normally very helpful and the Bench give more leeway to teh lay litigant-

    If you lose your own costs are not that much a factor

    but the Bench may not award full costs to the winning side if they field a top heavy team of QC's and Junior

    COunsel against a lay litigant

    But saying all that the only COurt that is predicatable is Judge Judy
  10. For what my humble opinion is worth I think it is admirable that you are willing to take on the Might of the Goliaths to get justice. It takes a brave man or woman to do so.

    The big, no huge but, is that I think you will be better off trying to get some help.

    There was a film in which Al Pacino said
    " the courts do not administer justice, they merely provide you with an opportunity to take it"

    Think about that, a good case may not win just because right is on your side. That's what stinks about the law. I have won cases I should not have done because I have outsmarted my opponent and it is fair to say the same has happened the other way round.

    We have an adversarial system of justice in the UK - which means the Judge will look at the facts before him/her he will not try to find the truth or get to the bottom of things, indeed s/he is prevented from doing so, mad as that sounds.

    The risk you have of losing just by the sheer size of your opponent is great. And if you do lose, you will more likely than not have an Order for costs against you -which could be as you said rightly, a six figure sum. That may mean you end up selling your possession?, homeless? or worse, bankrupt?

    I am sorry to be doom and gloom but I like to always be fair and honest.

    I do know one brilliant trial advocate who is coming up to retirement (he is not old but has just had enough of the Law) who unfortunately said he would not take on any more cases now, but loves taking on the "Establishment" and often does so for paltry sums of money - PM me and I will TRY to introduce you to him. But I make no promises.[align=justify]
  11. I take it there was no like minded person who was
    a) eligible for legal aid or whatever its called,
    b) free of assets and income and therefore had less to lose in an expense award if the judgement went against them, and
    c) was willing to be first over the top on the basis that those with houses and assets could then follow when the precedent was established . . .
  12. A useless little 'homily'' used by pompous intellectually idle lawyers who prefer metaphore as a substitute for rational analysis in the rather naive belief that the law exists for the sole purpose of providing them with a living!

    Another favourite is 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'. It is an expression intended to deter, discourage and close down inconvenient questions. It is generally used defensively by those who profess to be possessed of a monopoly of it and find to their great embarrassment that they have been humilated before a judge by a non-qualfied advocate!
  13. Just as i was thinking that this thread was dead....
  14. Mr_Fingerz

    Mr_Fingerz LE Book Reviewer

    Your best bet would be not to be a litigant in person, but to get a brief to act "pro bono".

    Human Rights law is hugely specialised and if the case is as significant as you state, then if you lose you greatly affect the wider public than if you had won.

    Apologies for the negativity....
  15. But most often used, by lawyers (I am not one), for cases of a qualified lawyer representing themselves rather than victims / complainants doing so. Emotional closeness to a case often blinds to to the legal quirks and constraints that may make it better to abandon a case, accept a partial settlement, or find another way to achieve justice. The law is neither perfect (nothing is) nor fair - but it is the system we have.

    YMMV. Regardless, in my profession it is an entirely true statement (and unfortunately true of far too many people who hold themselves out to be qualified professionals.) When used in response to a question, it should always be accompanied with the explanation (time permitting) of the true situation - in legal terms this is often because of the impact of case law and, generally, most non-lawyers see very little of that.

    As an aside, it has been interesting on a number of occasions having to educate even specialist lawyers regarding the various laws and cases existing that affect what I do. But I wouldn't pretend to have any idea about contract, housing or family law, for example.