A Straightforward Guide to How to Be a Litigant in Person in the New Legal World – representing yourself in the civil courts

Michael Langford

£10.99, Straightforward Publishing

As we all know, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 decreased eligibility and removed huge areas of civil law from scope.

This book’s stated aim is to provide practical advice on how to act for oneself and present a case in court. In addition, it aims to set out the basic principles of law and procedure in areas that a litigant in person (LiP) may encounter.

Rather than trying to cover too wide a range of civil litigation, it tackles certain areas. So, for example, it does not even touch on family law, employment or immigration. Its focus is on chapters entitled: Landlord and Tenant; Consumer Disputes and Debt Matters; Boundary and Rights of Way Disputes; and, finally, Inheritance Claims.

However, before addressing these, it builds a base for the LiP. It explores proportionality (albeit briefly) and covers unbundling. It mentions The Civil Courts Structure Review and the forthcoming online court, technology permitting. The chapter on How to Prepare a Case simply explains contract and negligence claims.

Pre-action protocols and letters of claim are covered in a particularly helpful chapter on stages of litigation. While ADR is mentioned here also, perhaps more could have been said about mediation.

The book contains some forms and precedents but these are not indexed or included in their own chapter. Rather, they are tucked away and not properly explained. One individual witness statement is useful but its reproduction renders it a little blurred. The Part 8 Claim Form and N244 application forms are welcome inclusions, along with a skeleton argument. A sample tenancy agreement appears but its relevance is not made clear.

Signposting is crucial for LiPs yet this work has no list of helpful websites of relevant organisations.

Any LiP would probably benefit from this short guide.

Tony Roe is a family law arbitrator and principal of Tony Roe Divorce & Family Law Solicitors, Theale, Reading. He is also a member of the Law Society’s Small Firms Division committee.