Court bombarded with emails from Litigants in Person

With legal aid being almost abolished for most family law cases, many people simply cannot afford to instruct a solicitor to advise them on their case or represent them in court proceedings. It is becoming more and more the norm for a District Judge to be the only person in the court room with any legal knowledge or training. Many in the industry say this is adding to the severe delays at Court as the judges have to spend more time explaining the law and procedures to self-representing parties, known as Litigants in Person.

Many Litigants in Person do not know the correct procedure for submitting applications to the Court and some can be difficult or aggressive in their correspondence. A senior judge, Lady Justice King, recently called for judges to be empowered to restrict the means by which Litigants in Person can communicate with the Court. In a recent case before her, Lady Justice King was dealing with two parties who had a dispute over a business which had lasted almost 7 years. She noted that both parties had bombarded the Court with endless applications and inundated court staff and judges with emails.

She said:
Whilst every judge is sympathetic to the challenges faced by litigants in person, justice simply cannot be done through a torrent of informal, unfocussed emails, often sent directly to the judge and not to the other parties. Neither the judge nor the court staff can, or should, be expected to field communications of this type. In my view judges must be entitled, as part of their general case management powers, to put in place, where they feel it to be appropriate, strict directions regulating communications with the court and litigants should understand that failure to comply with such directions will mean that communications that they choose to send, notwithstanding those directions, will be neither responded to nor acted upon.”

Time will tell whether the rest of  the judiciary will back her words and we see a change in the way Litigants in Person act during court proceedings.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email