An explosion in lay litigants as a result of the financial crash has caused huge problems for the courts, Attorney General Séamus Woulfe told FLAC’s annual conference in Trinity College Dublin this morning.
“A minority have given lay litigants a bad name, partly because they have felt they can get up in court, speak for as long as they want, refuse to obey instructions from the judge, block the court list, delay the court list, and try and arrest the judge along the way … I see Judge Laffoy is here today, and she had that at one stage in her court. I heard about it at the time.”
He asked why lay litigants should block the whole court lists through obstructive behaviour, such that those who were paying for representation could not get their case on.
“It’s an absolutely massive problem that the courts and the legal system are facing,” he said.
These lay litigants “are not stupid, they understand English, they understand logic, so we have to be very careful that there’s a balance in this debate,” he said.
He disagreed with wrapping the concept of personal representation in what he described as “a warm fuzzy glow”.
The Attorney General said he hoped that Mr Justice Peter Kelly’s civil justice review would provide a solution to something that is “causing huge problems to the courts and the legal system”.