Litigants in Person

Litigants in person (LIP) in England and Wales are individuals who are representing themselves in a legal proceeding, without the assistance of a lawyer or other legal professional. Litigants in person can participate in any type of legal case, including civil cases, criminal cases, and family law cases.

Litigants in Person may request the assistance of a McKenzie friend during a court hearing.

The use of litigants in person has become increasingly common in recent years, due in part to cuts in legal aid and the rising cost of legal representation. While litigants in person have the right to represent themselves in court, they often lack the legal knowledge and expertise of trained lawyers, which can make the legal process more difficult for them.

The court system in England and Wales has attempted to make the legal process more accessible to litigants in person, by providing information and guidance through court staff, online resources, and simplified court procedures. However, litigants in person should be aware that the legal system can be complex and challenging to navigate without legal representation.

In England and Wales, judges are expected to treat litigants in person with respect and fairness, while also upholding the principles of justice and the rule of law. The treatment of litigants in person should be guided by the following principles:


Litigants in person should be treated equally to those who have legal representation. Judges should not assume that a litigant in person is less able to present their case effectively or that their case is less important.


Judges should remain impartial and objective in their dealings with litigants in person, regardless of the litigant’s background, education or personal circumstances.


Judges may offer assistance to litigants in person where appropriate, such as explaining court procedures or summarizing legal arguments. However, judges must be careful not to give legal advice, as this is the role of a lawyer.


Judges should ensure that they communicate clearly and effectively with litigants in person, avoiding legal jargon or technical language where possible. Judges should also be patient and courteous, particularly where the litigant in person is unrepresented and may be nervous or anxious.

Procedural fairness

Judges should ensure that the litigant in person is given a fair opportunity to present their case and that the legal process is conducted fairly, with due regard for the principles of natural justice.

In summary, while judges are not expected to provide legal advice or act as an advocate for litigants in person, they are expected to treat them with respect and fairness, and to ensure that the legal process is conducted fairly and impartially.

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