When people are involved in a court case they can choose to be represented by a lawyer, or they can represent themselves in court. There are some types of court cases involving a criminal offence in which people must be represented by a lawyer. When someone decides to represent themselves in court proceedings, rather than use a lawyer, they are known as ‘litigant in person' (LiP for short).
Information for Litigants in Person
If you are a litigant in person you might find that you are questioned by a lawyer in court.
Some of the organisations that represent lawyers have produced a guide to help litigants in person understand what to expect (and what to not expect) from the lawyer for the other side in court proceedings.
Why do people sometimes choose to represent themselves in court?
There can be lots of reasons why someone would choose to represent themselves in court.
Sometimes people are unable to pay for a lawyer. Other people feel confident enough to explain their side of the argument themselves.
Whatever the case, if you are thinking about representing yourself in a court case there are important things to consider. For example, there are deadlines that must be met and work that needs to be done to prepare a legal argument.
On the day of the court appearance itself there are also processes that you will need to follow. To help you prepare, the Advice Now guides can guide you through the process.
You have a lawyer but the other side is not legally represented
In some cases one person has a lawyer representing them in court, but the other side does not. In this situation, your lawyer will have responsibilities to you and also have certain responsibilities and duties to the court. The organisations which represent lawyers have produced a guide to explain how your lawyer will deal with the other side in a court case when they are not legally represented.
Where can I find out more?
If you are representing yourself in court we recommend you check these websites:
- The Advice Now site
- The Bar Council's guide to representing yourself in court (PDF - The guide was last updated in 2013 and contains many broken links but is still useful.)
- The Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau
You can also refer to the other pages in our courts section: