You don't often get information on who they are /what they think/what they're for - my District Judge was a human enigma.The embodiment of the complexity of the rules on ancillary relief - inscrutable and omnipotent and infallible, robotic and smug and he whispered a lot.
Why do we do divorce like this - it's ludicrous.
Although I think I might be a tad more knowledgeable than most lay people about family law I recognise that is nothing like sols knowledge and practical experience. The more I learn the more I realise there is to find out. It's not very often that I agree with almost everything that is written but in this case I think he's spot on. There's nothing said that doesn't square with assisting LIPs (he stresses \"considerable latitude may be afforded to a litigant in person\") but it's right that a judge reaches a decision based on the law and the arguments and evidence presented. They can't help a LIP to do that without compromising their impartiality. OK his remark \"Don’t you deserve better?\" might be patronising but the rest seems fair to me.
With what specifically in the article do you not agree?
Sorry ladybird - of no practical help to you -I just really hate what that judge said when his job is to make it possible - loads of people do their own financial settlement - District Judges probably don't like it because most of them were solicitors?
Despite the high use of \"maybe\"s, \"likely\"s and \"probably\"s in the judges piece the title of the piece gives it away that the decision has been made for those who are considering self-repping.
1. \"You probably won’t understand how the court will reach its decision\". Probably. Well, I could probably do a bit of research, buy a few books and then get a pretty good idea of what is involved. Ignorance is not stupidity.
2. \"You won’t be aware of judicial guidelines\". Are they a secret? No. Again, a bit of research is required.
3. “Big money” cases are a breed of their own....They have introduced important concepts...which are now trickling down into more modest disputes. But these concepts are not easily absorbed and understood by those who are not divorce lawyers.\" They do not seem to be easily absorbed and understood by divorce lawyers themsleves. No one, but no one is going to care more about your case than you are. Most of these special considerations are dependent on surplus funds. I would think that most divorces do not involve a surplus of cash, so this point may affect the McCartneys but certainly doesn't affect me.
4. \"You will be facing those who know what they’re doing.\" That's a bold statement. Does the judge think it still valid if both parties self-rep?
5. \"Cross-examination is an art, not a science.\" OK so this is dodgy. Self-reppers are unlikely to have experience of cross-examination, but sticking to the facts and avoiding fault is the way forward. Could be difficult for the passionate and emotional self-repper, but otherwise nothing more than an organised and cool head is required. The way the judge goes on about it I am surprised there are any barristers around under 75 years old.
6. \"Poor presentation is likely to antagonise the judge.\" Yes, so is talking on one's mobile while the judge is addressing the party and any number of things that are covered by good manners and common sense. The manner of presentation is laid out in th eguides for practice proceedings.
7. \"Emotion has very little to do with it.\" Again, could be difficult for those hot blooded self-reppers, but otherwise not a point against self-repping at all.
8. \"It’s a false economy.\" Rubbish. When faced with the prospect of eviction I had to economise. I am to make myself homeless and take myself into an unrepayable debt (if someone could be found daft enough to lend me money) in order to be represented? Of course not. Allowable costs of the proceedings are laughable when compared to real costs that leave the pocket. Without a lawyer I have a half-decent rented roof over my head and eat meat a couple of days a week. Court costs are cheap compared to solicitors and barristers.
9. \"Achieving a settlement may be harder.\" Then again it may be just as hard but astronomically more expensive when using solicitors. What if the other party doesn't turn up to hearings after Honest Joe/Jane has been paying \"handsome fees\" for full and tidy professional representation? Nothing, that's what. If a party doesn't want to parley, it won't, no matter who is representing whom.
10. \"It just doesn’t look good.\" What? Is that like, \"It's just not on old bean\"? and as for \"penny-pinching\"! Gawd help us gov'nor, I neva wanned no court to fink me disrespectful. I thought the judge was to decide on the facts of the matter brought before him and not on prejudice based on a party's perceived appearance or pecuniary capacity.
There are some comments after the article which seem to reflect similar thinking to mine (except for the one about the judge, his head and a dead bear's bottom - that may have gone by now).
Absolutely, positively, no one is going to care more about your case than you. It's rather like finances, no one looks after your money like you but very few people have the skills or time to deal with every aspect themselves so sometimes consult accountants and/or actuaries. And I agree the article wasn't about considering the pros and cons, it was presenting the disadvantages of self representation.
The probability of LIPs not understanding how the courts reach a decision is high. Unrepresented litigants often struggle to identify which issues are in dispute and to understand the purpose of litigation, as well as having a broader
confusion of law with social or moral notions of ‘justice.’
Reading a few books and doing some research can't replace years of being taught by experienced teachers and practical experience or protect LIPs from opponent's tactics. There aren't that many court cases when both parties self rep.
It is false economy to self represent if the result of inexperience is paying the other party's costs or if you loose out because of the way the case is presented.
Statistically cases involving LIPs are less likely to reach a settlement.
Of course if people are \"not taking the matter seriously, determined to be obstructive, penny-pinching, unwilling to compromise, just downright difficult\" it won't do them any favours and may affect the outcome.
That's not to say that one size glove fits all and self representation or part representation may work fine for those with life experience, intellectual skills and emotional objectivity or when things are straightforward but people need to be able to weigh up the pros and cons. The reason most people say they self rep is costs and not because they see it as a better alternative. Yes, I know some people have bad experiences with lawyers, but equally some people blame all in sundry and fail to see they have any responsibility for the situation.
It's worth bearing in mind that some judges and lawyers in E&W contribute to the public domain which makes self representation much more viable than here in Scotland.
PS If any lawyers or judges are reading can I claim a Krispy Kreme Doughnut, please?
IMHO if you decide on a DIY divorce you are just as well downloading the forms and doing it yourself rather than using an online company. A good starting point is reading the Which? guide to divorce, whatever it's called these days.