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11 Jan 2022 / Law Society Print

Lay litigants ‘problematic’, says Law Society

The Law Society has said that litigants-in-person can be problematic in Irish courts.

Some Irish judges have pointed to the excessive court time devoted to individuals or parties who are unrepresented by a solicitor or barrister, or self-represented – known as litigants-in-person.

High Court Justice Ms Nuala Butler said at the weekend that much court time is being wasted on the cases of litigants-in-person.

The Law Society has agreed that growing numbers of litigants-in-person can lead to wasted time in Irish courts, and that instructing a solicitor will speed up the proceedings, lower costs, and result in greater court throughput.

Lack of investment

“We already have a court system that is bursting at the seams due to an insufficient number of judges and lack of investment in the court system, which has been further exacerbated by unavoidable delays due to the pandemic,” a Law Society spokeswoman has said.

“Court time is precious, and many judges are extremely frustrated with needless time wasting,” she continued.

The High Court judge warned that there was “frequently an unwillingness” on the part of lay litigants to accept any adverse ruling.

‘Prolix pleading’

This leads to “dense, repetitive and prolix pleading”, along with multiple applications and appeals, Ms Justice Butler was quoted as telling the Sunday Business Post.

The causes of such actions were “rarely clearly identified or properly pleaded”, and the time it took to deal with many of their applications was often “completely disproportionate” to their importance.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland