Litigants in Person

A litigant in person is an individual, company or organisation who has to go to court without legal representation from a solicitor or barrister.

This page sets out information about the following key resources for litigants in person in cases heard in the Chancery Division:

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR)

A litigant in person will be expected to comply with the rules and practice directions contained in the CPR (external link), and in a publication called the White Book.

Attention is drawn to the requirements of CPR PD 57AD (external link) which is concerned with disclosure of documents for all cases in the Business and Property Courts.  Litigants in Person should note that CPR PD57AD does not apply in the County Court.

The National Archives

From April 2022, published decisions of the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Upper Tribunals are being sent to the National Archives. The Find case law (external link) service on the National Archives has more information.

Chancery Forms

Information regarding starting proceedings in the Chancery Division can be found in our “Bringing a case in the Chancery Division” page. For information regarding the certain forms that are required:

The Chancery Guide

  • The Chancery Guide contains important practical information about the conduct of litigation in the Chancery Division of the High Court. It can be viewed and downloaded here.
  • The Chancery Guide should be read in conjunction with the CPR. The Guide is not a substitute for the CPR and does not have the force of law. However, failure to comply with the Guide may influence the way in which the court exercises its powers under the CPR, including the making of adverse costs orders
  • Appendix H of the Chancery Guide is dedicated to litigants in person. Other chapters in the Chancery Guide are also very likely to be relevant to litigants in person.

Other written resources

  • The Law Society has set out some short guidelines for litigants in person in circumstances where the other side is represented by a lawyer. These guidelines can be viewed and downloaded (PDF, external link) from their website.
  • Advicenow has written a longer guide (external link) explaining what to expect when the other parties involved in the case are represented by a lawyer.
  • A Practice Guidance note (PDF) on McKenzie Friends (dated 12 July 2010) touches on the topic of who has the right to conduct litigation and address the court in a claim. This is likely to be relevant to a litigant in person who, for example, wants a lay person such as a friend or family member to address the court or take steps in the litigation on their behalf. This situation is not to be confused with family members or friends who simply come to the court as witnesses.

Electronic filing

Assistance for litigants in person

Neither the court staff nor the judges are in a position to give advice about the conduct of a claim. There is however a great deal of practical help available for litigants in person. The following list is non-exhaustive.

The Chancery Bar Litigants in Person Support (‘CLIPS’) scheme

Under this scheme, barristers provide free legal assistance to litigants in person appearing in the Applications Court, where High Court Judges typically hear applications for an urgent interim remedy such as an injunction or other order made in or prior to a claim being issued.

The scheme is available to any litigant in person in the Applications Court without any means testing.

See Appendix H of the Chancery Guide for more information.

Citizens’ Advice Bureau (‘CAB’)

Litigants in person may contact their local CAB or visit the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau, which is run by lawyers in conjunction with CAB and is independent of the court. The Bureau also operates a drop-in Bankruptcy Court advice desk on the ground floor of the Thomas More Building. The Bureau may be able to refer a case to Advocate (a charity formerly known as the Bar Pro Bono Unit).

See Appendix A of the Chancery Guide for contact details and Appendix H for further information.

Advocate

Advocate (external link) (formerly known as the Bar Pro Bono Unit) is a charity that finds free legal assistance from volunteer barristers.

Information about applying for assistance from Advocate can be found on the Advocate website (external link).

The Advocate website has a list of other organisations and resources (external link) that may help litigants in person. Even if Advocate cannot assist, it may be able to direct you to another useful organisation or resource.

Chancery Mediation Scheme

Advocate and the Chancery Bar Association run a scheme where a volunteer barrister will act as a mediator for free in suitable Chancery and commercial cases, where one of the parties is unable to afford to pay for a mediator. Details of the scheme can be found on the Advocate website (external link).

The City Law School’s Company Insolvency Pro Bono Scheme (‘CO.IN’)

CO.IN provides free legal help for litigants in person appearing before the Winding Up Court on Wednesdays.

CO.IN operates from Consultation Room 17 in the High Court, Rolls Building, Fetter Lane, London.

Coronavirus update: Litigants in person can contact CO.IN via email at companyinsolvency@city.ac.uk

See Appendix H of the Chancery Guide for more details.

Personal Insolvency Litigation Advice and Representation Scheme (‘PILARS’)

PILARS provides advice and/or representation for unrepresented debtors or bankrupts in bankruptcy proceedings who need legal assistance but are not entitled to public funding and cannot afford to pay for assistance.

Details of eligibility for PILARS and how to apply can be found on the ‘Partner schemes’ page of the Advocate website (external link).

Legal Aid Agency: Civil Legal Advice

Litigants in person who may be eligible for legal aid may also contact Civil Legal Advice.

See Appendix H of the Chancery Guide for hours, contact details and other information.

Support Through Court

Support Through Court (formerly known as the ‘Personal Support Unit’ or the ‘PSU’) offers practical, procedural and emotional support for litigants in person

More details can be found on the Support Through Court website (external link) and in Appendix H of the Chancery Guide.

McKenzie Friends

McKenzie Friends can assist litigants in person, primarily by taking notes, quietly prompting the litigant and offering advice and suggestions to the litigant.

More information on McKenzie Friends can be found online (external link) and in Chapter 2 of the Chancery Guide.

A Practice Guidance note on McKenzie Friends (dated 12 July 2010) is available for information.

Information about courts: address, parking, facilities, disabled access, interpreters

There is an online service (external link) which allows searchers to find a particular court or tribunal in England or Wales.

Each specific court has a page which typically sets out the following information:

  • Address
  • Opening Times
  • Email, telephone and fax contact details and
  • Building facilities, including:
  1. Parking
  2. Disabled access
  3. Baby changing facilities
  4. Prayer / quiet rooms
  5. Video facilities; and
  6. WiFi.

Information about getting an interpreter at court can be found on GOV.UK (external link)

General guidance for court and tribunal users on COVID-19 can be found on GOV.UK (external link)