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Representing yourself in court - why more people should give mediation a go

Representing yourself in court can seem like a cheap, convenient alternative to engaging a solicitor or trying mediation, but in reality it can be a difficult experience.

We often find that people think it will be easy to represent themselves in court, but in reality, most people do not really know what to expect.

Citizens Advice produced a report ‘Standing alone: going to the family court without a lawyer’ after its advisors reported an increase in the number of people choosing to represent themselves in court following cuts to Legal Aid in 2013. The report was based on interviews with people who had gone to court on their own, along with feedback from Citizens Advice personnel who had been advising others. It was written to give an honest unbiased appraisal of what going to court without a barrister or solicitor is actually like.

The report found that for the majority of people, any positives, such as saving on the cost of a solicitor, were “…outweighed by the stress, responsibility and loneliness of going to court without representation.” The report also found that “9 in 10 people with experience of going to court as a litigant in person say it affected at least one other aspect of their life”, such as putting extra strains on their mental health, working life and finances.

What part does mediation play?

Mediation can offer a more positive alternative to court. It is quicker, less stressful and offers a trained professional to help you move forward.

As Legal Aid is still available for Family Mediation, for those on the lowest incomes it is even free. For paying clients, the average cost of mediation is just £500-£800, making it an affordable alternative with fewer risks than representing yourself in court.

80% of those who mediate reach agreement, but if mediation does not work, it is still possible to go to court. By giving mediation a go before making an application to court, people know that they have tried their best to resolve their dispute first.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about representing themselves in court for divorce, separation or a dispute over how often a parent should see a child, why not see if mediation could help first?

For more information contact us on 01603 620588 or email admin@norfolkmediation.co.uk - we are here to help you move forward.

 

You can read the full ‘Standing alone: going to the family court without a lawyer’ report here https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/policy/policy-research-topics/justice-policy-research/access-to-justice-policy-research-and-consultation-responses/access-to-justice-consultation-responses/standing-alone-going-to-the-family-court-without-a-lawyer/