Courts & Tribunals
An acknowledgement of the important role that services such as lawyer for the day programs, court service centers, court clerks and self help materials play.
The Provincial Court of British Columbia, in partnership with Clicklaw, have created (regularly updated) mobile-friendly guides to online legal information resources for self-represented litigants, and others who require assistance when starting out on the path to problem resolution for Provincial Court matters.
Judges in Nova Scotia learn about the challenges faced by the African community in the justice system
“We all carry with us lived experiences that shape who we are and what we believe, and those experiences help guide the decisions we make...it is important that we take time to better understand the world view of those who turn to us for relief, particularly when those individuals come from a background different than our own.”
HMCTS have published their latest update on the progress of the court reform process.
The new web tool uses an algorithm to work out if there is a good case, prepares a letter to send to the defendant and calculates what it believes the case is worth. Alongside, it provides case evaluation, letter and valuation tools.
On 23rd April we arranged a free one day workshop on working with distressed Litigants in Person. Over 90 people registered to attend but unfortunately others were unable to join us as the event was oversubscribed. Given the high level of interest, we have provided an update on the workshop below together with next steps to ensure everyone in the LIP Network is informed about our work.
The first virtual court case has been held with a claimant appearing via a home laptop camera, while a judge sat in London and lawyers appeared from Belfast.
Following the “Transforming our justice system” White Paper in September 2016, plans for a new Online Court are underway. HMCTS’ reform programme aims to streamline a number of different services online and provide more accessible ways for non-lawyers to commence and respond to claims. Moving proceedings online will especially impact the civil courts, where the number of litigants in person has risen sharply.
(Author: Toby Brown, barrister at South Square chambers and trustee at the Access to Justice Foundation) Many of you reading this will be aware of pro bono costs. But for those who don’t know, pro bono costs are the equivalent of normal legal costs, yet are available when the winning party was assisted by free of charge legal representation. Under section 194 of the Legal Services Act 2007 the losing party pays the equivalent sum of costs to the Access to Justice Foundation. The Foundation then distributes the funds to support organisations that provide free legal help to those in need. So the scheme levels the playing field for pro bono assisted parties in terms of costs risks and therefore can help parties settle, and produces extra money for justice. But why then are we not getting more pro bono costs?
(Author: Lucy Reed, Barrister) The Transparency Project is an educational charity whose aims are to improve public understanding of family law and the family court system. In October 2016 we formally launched our Family Court Reporting Watch project, funded by the Legal Education Foundation, building upon our established blogging on the topic of family law.
Designated Family Judge for Avon, North Somerset and Gloucestershire, HHJ Stephen Wildblood QC has been involved in raising awareness of issues surrounding the Family Courts in a rather unique way: through interactive theatre productions. The first production is taking place on the 6th July 2017 and is to be entitled ‘The State V The Family: Drawing the Line.’
(Author: Rebecca Scott, RCJ Advice) RCJ Advice recognises that there is a rising number of litigants in person within legal proceedings. We want to help and support the most vulnerable and those most in need. In order to widen our reach and help more people obtain access to justice, RCJ Advice have established a working relationship with Refuge.
At Exeter Combined Court Centre, a successful collaboration between PSU, LawWorks, the Bar Pro Bono Unit and local lawyers, has resulted in the opening of a family advice clinic in the court at Southernhay Gardens, for free legal help with private family (children) disputes, and non-molestation/occupation orders. The service will be available on the first Friday of each month, and there will be seven 30-minute appointment slots available, for initial advice in these family matters. To make an appointment, please call PSU Exeter on 01392 415335. PSU Exeter is always looking out for new volunteers: to discuss volunteering, please contact the Manager, Matt Bass, on the number above, or visit the PSU website, where you can complete a brief expression of interest form.
(Author: Rebecca Scott, RCJ Advice) Since November 2015 RCJ Advice have delivered Time Together, our unique Child Contact Centre within the Central London Family Court. This is the only child contact facility within a court and we agreed to deliver this as we know from our legal work that often children are the innocent victims of parental disputes.
Students from the University of Bristol, the University of Law and the University of the West of England are holding information sessions for LIPs explaining the court procedure, what you can expect in court and what you need to do in preparation for the court hearing. The sessions run weekly at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre and include a tour of the court.
New PSU services in 2016 include Bournemouth, Chester, Newport and West London Family Court: these services are currently part-time, and opening hours vary, so please check the PSU website for details.
Judi Lincoln, Advice & Volunteer Manager at the Norfolk Community Law Service tells us about their Family Court Support Service (FCSS) for private law, child contact matters.