A former aviation director who represented himself in court has called for the government and legal profession to do more to help self-represented people.
Peter Elliott said he was ‘utterly frightened’ when he first walked into Manchester’s high court four years ago and was reduced to asking around the canteen for legal assistance. Elliott succeeded earlier this year in convincing a High Court judge to set aside a 2010 judgment against him following a long-running battle with his former employer.
But last month, Elliott was told by Lord Justice Kay, vice-president of the Court of Appeal, that his lack of legal understanding did not entitle him to ‘extra indulgence’.
Since then, he said a solicitor and a barrister have offered to help him appeal to the Supreme Court.
‘Looking back, I had no clue what I was doing in that building,’ he told the Gazette. ‘I didn’t even know what to call the judge and the whole thing was intimidating. It was like being in a game of chess where you don’t know where any of the pieces can go but your opponent knows it all.’
Elliott wants duty lawyers, either paid for by the Legal Services Commission or supplied pro bono by firms, to act as guides outside the courtroom. He suggested they could offer practical, non-partisan advice on court proceedings.