"It is encouraging to read in Ryder J''s Fourth Update to the Family Justice Modernisation Programme that,
"There is a project to identify the court''s expectations of unrepresented parties and vice versa so that cases involving unrepresented parties are not unfairly prejudiced in terms of their process. This will involve the provision of significant new materials to assist both represented parties who appear against those who are unrepresented and unrepresented parties to understand the expectations of the court and to abide by its procedures and practices."
This sounds like a very positive and welcome innovation.
It is important, nevertheless, that serious and careful thought is given to the question of the sanctions that might be applied in appropriate cases. Both rich and poor must take responsibility for their actions. If a SRL decides that he will represent himself in litigation, he is entitled to have clear guidelines as to the way in which the system works and what is expected of him, be it in the preparation of his case or in his general conduct. He also needs to be made accountable for his actions. In my opinion, it is this absence of any need to be accountable, that brings inherent unfairness to the system as it presently operates."