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A Litigant-in-Person (LIP) is a party to a case who appears at a hearing without representation by a lawyer. This may be because they can no longer afford such representation, because they have been refused Legal Aid, or because they believe that such representation will not be in their best interests.
Legal Aid is money provided by the taxpayer given or loaned to litigants on low incomes to enable the purchase of legal services such as a solicitor or barrister. Your solicitor will provide you with all the information you need, and the appropriate forms so that it can be determined whether or not you qualify (note that the forms changed on 1st November 2012). Solicitors must be members of Resolution (formerly the SFLA) and uphold the Resolution guidelines to qualify for public funding.
If you cannot resolve a dispute over parenting with your former partner between yourselves you only have a handful of options available, and limited choice as to which you use.
The worst, by far, is full scale litigation through the courts; we certainly don’t recommend it, but you may be forced down this route against your will. If you do end up litigating the first decision you must make is whether to be represented in court by a solicitor, possibly paid for through legal aid if you qualify, or to represent yourself, preferably with the assistance of a McKenzie Friend. Don’t make that decision until you have read the rest of this guide.
Always remember that your solicitor works for you and you are paying the bills. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, sack him or her and get yourself a new one. Or represent yourself.
This article provides some basic advice on how to go about choosing a solicitor, including how to prepare for an initial meeting with a solicitor to decide whether they are suitable.