- The Supreme Court of NSW recently released a guide to assist unrepresented civil litigants, entitled Representing Yourself in Civil Proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
- Practitioners have a duty to assist the Court when opposing an unrepresented litigant. One practical way to fulfil this duty is to assist the other party to access a copy of the new Guide.
- Assisting a litigant in person will often advance a practitioner’s own client’s interests and promote the just, quick and cheap resolution of a case.
When a practitioner is opposed by a litigant in person, it will often be in the best interest of that practitioner, their client, the unrepresented party and the court for them to lend a helping hand to the unrepresented person. That is not to suggest that one should send their goal keeper off the field and proffer a case for the other party. Rather, a practitioner should ensure that the opposing litigant understands, at minimum, when they should appear in court, what they should bring, and what to expect on the day. After all, you can’t start the game without both sides knowing the rules.
To assist civil litigants who are not legally represented, the Supreme Court of New South Wales has released a guide entitled Representing Yourself in Civil Proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales (the ‘Guide’), which is available on the Court’s website. Practitioners who find themselves sitting across from a litigant in person should consider giving that person, or directing them where to find, a copy of the Guide well before the date the matter is listed to be heard in court. For urgent matters, for example in a duty list, a well prepared practitioner expecting an appearance by an unrepresented litigant could bring a copy of the Guide to hand to their opponent outside court.