Represent Yourself in Court



Represent Yourself in Court provides the information a litigant in person needs in order to prepare and present a successful case in the civil courts of England and Wales. It provides an outline of what is involved in bringing or defending a claim, from first considerations to preparing and presenting your evidence at trial. It takes you step by step through the procedures, and with the tips and advice given enables you to present a persuasive professionally prepared case.

Instructing a firm of solicitors to act for you will rarely be economical for cases involving less than £10,000, nor for many other disputes including those for a greater sum of money. Lawyers are expensive, and your only option might be to represent yourself on purely financial grounds. Whatever the reason, with a little help, self-representing need not be a daunting experience. The reality is that bringing or defending a case is not in itself difficult, but guidance on the tactics and procedure can be necessary to present a winning case. That is the purpose of this book.



The first questions – and rightly so – when you are involved on either side of a dispute are whether you can deal with it yourself and what help is going to be available, if needed. The answer is likely to be that most people need not be disadvantaged in most situations by self representing – being a litigant in person – although there will be exceptions. Help will be available and that is what this book is all about.

There can be a number of reasons for not employing a lawyer. One will often be financial. Lawyers are extortionately expensive. You may simply not have the money available. Even if you do, your case might not justify the money which would be involved. Otherwise, you may wish to keep control of your case or from past experience not have had a happy experience with lawyers. More and more people are now acting for themselves, and with the legal information available online and elsewhere you will not be alone or be at any particular disadvantage.

Dealing with a legal case is however demanding. It is time consuming, and you are going to need to invest a considerable amount of your time working on your case. Preparation and concentration on the many pre-trial procedures is going to be the key to success. The legal system is an array of procedures which have to be followed, and which can mean the difference between success and failure. Only a few cases ever make it to trial. Most settle well before, and are won or lost on the pre-trial procedures and manoeuvring.

If you think that the law and litigation is difficult, you will be right. It should not be embarked upon lightly. It is not easy, but it is most unlikely that your case will depend on arguing the law and legal issues. Your case is more likely to turn on the facts and how you present them to the court. You do not need legal training to do this – only common sense. Any law needed can be researched and is likely to be available online. If not, it can be ‘bought in’ at small cost. If you have common sense and can combine this with life experience, you will, providing you have the time and commitment, be able to deal yourself with most legal disputes. Most only require rational, logical thinking with organisation and basic administrative skills. You should not allow yourself to be intimidated by the complexity of the law. In the rare case which turns on a legal issue and goes to trial, you will be able to rely on the judge to identify the issue, explain it to you, and deal with it appropriately.

It is essential to be aware that if you bring a legal action against someone and do not succeed, you could be ordered to pay their costs of defending the claim, apart from in family, employment and small claim cases. If you defend a claim against you and do not succeed, you could likewise have to pay significant costs.

There are three crucial aspects to any civil dispute: first, the evidence – the facts surrounding the dispute – ; secondly, the relevant law when applied to those facts; and thirdly, the tactics to be applied to the case.

Of these, the most important is usually the evidence, as very few cases are won without strong evidence to support the winner’s arguments. Never lie and don’t exaggerate. Decide at the beginning what your case is and don’t change.



Copyright 2
Introduction 5
Chapter 1. 7
Do you have a cause of action? 8
Can you prove it? 9
Are you in time? 9
Can you collect if you win? 11
Chapter 2. Evidence 12
Witnesses 12
Documentary evidence 14
Tangible evidence 14
Securing your evidence 14
Chapter 3. Pre-action conduct 16
Without Prejudice 17
Chapter 4. Making your own claim 19
Money claim online 19
Statements of Case 20
Chapter 5. Defending a claim23
Chapter 6. Pre-trial procedure 26
Allocation 26
The three tracks 28
Directions 29
Disclosure 30
Expert witnesses 33
Chapter 7. Pre-trial applications 37
Summary judgement and striking out a claim 37
Notice to admit 39
Requests for further information 39
Security for costs 40
Unless orders 40
Chapter 11. Appearing before the court 42
Chapter 12. Preparing for the trial 43
Witness statements 44
Offers to settle 46
Trial bundles 47
Skeleton argument 48
Chapter 13. The trial 49
Opening speech 50
Examination in chief 50
Cross examination of your opponent 51
Closing argument 55
Chapter 14. Costs 58
Small claim costs 59
Fast track costs 60
Litigant in person costs 61
Interest 61
Chapter 15. Appels 63
Chapter 16. Enforcing a judgement 66
Orders to obtain information (oral examination) 66
Warrant of control 67
Attachment of earnings orders 68
Third party changing orders 70
Charging orders 71
Statutory demands 72
Chapter 17. Non-money claims. 73
Injunctions 73
Interim injunctions 74
Application procedure for an injunction 76
Undertakings 77
Breach of injuction orders 78
Freezeing orders 78
Chapter 18. Alternatives to court 79
Direct negotiations 79
Mediation 82
Arbitration 84
Expert determination 85
Solicitors 85
Unbundled services 86
No win/no fee 87
Damaged based agreements. 88
Barristers 89
Court staff 90
McKenzie friends 90
Legal aid 91
Pro-bono 91
Appendix 93
Particulars of Clain 93
Letters before action 94
Legal letter writing 95
Drafting court pleadings 97
Preparing a witness statement 98
Further help 100