Representing Yourself At Court

The recent case of H v Dent serves as a warning to parties in family proceedings who represent themselves in court.

The case concerned a father who issued family proceedings for contact with his daughter.  In addition, he issued proceedings against the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services (CAFCASS) and against the solicitor who had represented his former partner for them to be committed to prison for offences under the justice system.  The father was unsuccessful in all his applications.

Unfortunately, the father had not followed the correct procedures and the court decided that none of his applications had any real prospect of success.  All of the father’s applications were struck out on the basis that they were an abuse of process.

Although costs orders are rarely made in children proceedings, the father was ordered to pay one of the defendant’s costs on an indemnity basis (being a higher amount even than those ordered on a standard basis) because of the misconceived nature of his application and the obvious deficiencies throughout the proceedings.

The father had been advised by the court during the proceedings to take legal advice but had not done so.

If you are considering issuing family proceedings or indeed defending them, it would be wise to take legal advice on the likely success of your application or defence and the procedural requirements involved.  This case demonstrates that the court can and will make costs orders against parties representing themselves if it feels that procedures are not properly followed and if applications, particularly committal applications, are issued and conducted inappropriately.

At Hewetts we offer a free initial consultation to see how we can help you.  We can advise on the merits of your application or defence and the risks involved.

For more information please contact either Elizabeth Bettes (Reading office) or Sandra Marshall (Windsor office).

 

Published on 20/11/2015

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