Study scrutinises self-representation in the legal system

Aug 02, 2013

Some of the potential pitfalls of representing yourself in court proceedings have been illustrated by the case of lawyer Davina Murray this week, a University of Otago PhD candidate studying the topic says.

Bridgette Toy-Cronin's PhD focuses on people representing themselves in civil court cases, including those in Family Court, but many of the issues raised are the same.

"Most people who represent themselves in court do not attract the same level of attention as Davina Murray, or author and Investigate magazine author Ian Wishart, who is currently defending himself, without a , in a defamation case in the Wellington High Court."

Most are lay people in the Family Court or Civil Court cases, and the number is thought to be growing as the government scales back Legal Aid and cost issues force people to litigate themselves.

Self-represented litigants in the Family Court will also greatly increase when the Government's controversial Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill becomes law, making self-representation mandatory in the early stages of many Family Court proceedings.

"My study is timely as it investigates the experience of self-represented litigants currently in the Family Court, as well as the District and High Courts, the barriers they face and any changes they would like to see."

Bridgette is a court lawyer who has practised in New Zealand and Australia. She has a Masters in Law from Harvard University.

"I left legal practice to research self-represented litigants as I think it's a very important issue for the New Zealand ."

"The litigants who go to court without a lawyer are entering a system that was not designed with them in mind."

"There is very little research in New Zealand about who these people are who represent themselves, why they are self-represented and what their experience of the court system is. There is a among judges, court staff and lawyers that their numbers are increasing."

Bridgette's project, for which she is seeking participants who are representing themselves in civil cases in the Family, District or High Court, aims to understand the experience of representing one's self and how the court system can better respond to this.

It will also look at the effect this has on other people in the court system, including judges, staff and opposing parties and their lawyers.

Explore further: Tokyo high court upholds Samsung win against Apple

More information: www.selfrepresented.org.nz/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UK court rules against euthanasia (Update)

Jul 31, 2013

A British appeals court upheld a law against euthanasia in rejecting appeals from two severely disabled men who argued that doctors should be allowed to legally kill them.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.