Self-represented Litigants

Justice_by_FolleInvasato

At the Working with Self-represented Litigants Program hosted by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, Professor Noel Semple discussed the rise of self-represented litigants. He remarked that many people are lured into representing themselves by the apparent feasibility of litigation.  http://www.noelsemple.ca

Professor Semple states that the perception of feasibility leads to more self-represented litigants. More self-represented litigants leads to more stress on the justice system. More stress on the justice system leads to more services for self-represented litigants. More services increases the perception of the feasibility of self-representation, and the cycle continues.

However, once in litigation, self-represented litigants experience feelings of frustration, stress, anxiety, and report being overwhelmed by the process. Litigation can bankrupt people emotionally and financially.

All litigants should be warned about the potential pitfalls of litigation. As Professor Adam Dodek frequently states “litigation is like war: it is easy to start but difficult to predict how it will turn out”. I would add that litigation, like war, is easy to start but hard to end. Lawsuits can easily take a decade from the issuance of a claim to the final disposition of the matter, especially if defence counsel engages in delay tactics. Consequently, sometimes the best strategy to conflict resolution is forgiveness instead of litigation. “To err is human; to forgive, divine”.

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