Self Representation – The Facts

On the 01 April 2013 the Legal Aid Sentencing Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO Bill) came into force.

The Act represents some of the biggest and far reaching changes to the legal profession in decades. These critical changes will affect anyone who now has a need to obtain legal advice and assistance after 01 April 2013. These changes have come into being virtually unopposed as the public at large knew little or nothing about them and would only become aware of them as when the need to consult a Solicitor or Barrister occurs.

The most vulnerable people in our society will now be refused Legal Aid and assistance under these changes.  No Win, No Fee arrangements have also been affected under the changes.

The basis of a No Win, No Fee agreement is a recoverable success fee and an insurance policy known as After Event Insurance.  No Win, No Fee agreements were championed as the answer to the first cull of Legal Aid in the late 90s, The Woolf Reforms.

The Woolf Reforms were the first overhaul of the withdrawal of Legal Aid. The Government of the day championed the No Win, No Fee agreement as the answer to the many cut backs to Legal Aid services that were withdrawn under the Woolf Reforms.

Legal Aid was still available for certain actions and vulnerable individuals.  One area where Legal Aid was still available was divorce.  Subject to a contribution Legal Aid was available to people divorcing. Typically people divorcing needed legal assistance to resolved personal finances, sell property and decide upon custody of any children involved within the divorce.

People could obtain legal assistance under the Legal Aid scheme until their finances were settled.  A contribution or repayment of the Legal Aid would be taken upon settlement of the divorce and the sale of any property involved.

The current position is that there is no longer any help or assistance in these matters.  Therefore, options available for divorcing couples is go to Court and represent themselves or fund their divorce action themselves on a pay as you basis.

No Win, No Fee agreements are still available for certain actions but under the new LASPO bill it has stopped Solicitor & Barristers claiming their Success Fees from the losing party.  This means that if you bring a successful action under a No Win, No Fee agreement the successful party will have to pay the Solicitor or Barrister’s success fee.  LASPO has also made ATE Insurance unrecoverable from the losing party which means ATE insurers are unlikely to want to carry the burden of an unrecoverable ATE premium and so will not offer cover after 01 April 2013.

This makes the No Win, No Fee agreement less attractive and Solicitors and Barristers are going to be unwilling take matters on, on a No Win, No Fee agreement due to the fact that there is too much risk in carrying their fees to the end of an action with the prospect of not recovering their success fee or having to forfeit it.

The knock on effect of these changes is that we are likely to see many more people trying to take complex actions through the Court system as litigants in person.  Whilst the Small Track system accessed through the County Courts is suitable for a litigant in person the higher courts or Multi Track and complex actions are heard are definitely not a suitable arena for litigants in person.

The Judiciary who operate independently to the Government policy makers are very concerned by the prospect of litigants in person attempting to ‘go it alone’. The procedure and protocol of the higher courts should deter litigants in person but for those who do attempt such a course of action the consequences could be dire and could cost the litigant in person the chance to successfully bring the action or prejudice an action to the point where it is struck out and expensive reinstatement or the use of the expensive appeal process will be required.

Access2Barristers Direct can provide a value for money service putting you into direct contact with the right barrister for you.  Our service is unique, you will not require a Solicitor if you come direct to ourselves.

There is a misconception that Barristers cost a lot more than Solicitors. With Access2Barristers Direct you will save money coming directly to a specialist Barrister.

A Solicitor will charge out at approximately £ 200.00 to £ 250.00 per hour he will eventually require a Barrister to provide an Opinion/ Advice and/ or provide representation/ advocacy in Court on your behalf.  A Barrister will typically make a further of £ 250.00 to £ 300.00 per hour for Advice or Advocacy.

Instructing Access2Barristers Direct will save you on average £ 150.00 to £ 175.00 per hour, this is a significant saving throughout the life of a matter and could inevitably end up saving you thousands of pounds.