With the number of people representing themselves in court having risen significantly over the past few years the Ministry of Justice have taken time to look at how litigants in person can be kept better informed about the developments with their case.
Most litigants in person elect to self-represent in court because hiring a legal representative is costly, although some chose to self-represent because they believe that the case is straightforward enough for them to handle.
The Ministry of Justice held a consultation entitled Part 39 Civil Procedure Rules: Consultation on proposed changes, which included considering the way developments were reported and communicated to all parties involved. This would include technological developments and would be in addition to the provision of transcripts that are already provided.
The proposed changes include keeping everyone involved in the case, including litigants in person informed, which will include informal records of proceedings. Parties will also be required to copy correspondence to the other side when corresponding with the court. The Ministry of Justice commented:
“It is a fundamental rule of the administration of justice that none of the parties may communicate with the court without simultaneously alerting the other parties to that fact. The concern is particularly acute where a represented party communicates with the court, without notifying the unrepresented opposing party.”
The Ministry of Justice is clear that litigants in person should be kept fully up to date with all communication and correspondence. The amended rules are expected to include giving the judge the power to enable informal records of the proceedings to be fully shared with the other party. These will be significant changes and will mean that everyone involved in a case always has access to the same information.
The changes are expected to be implemented later this year.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance