Consumer guru backs litigant in person helpline

Lewis: £60,000 donation

Consumer champion Martin Lewis has donated nearly £60,000 to support a new helpline for litigants in person in the family and civil courts.

The helpline has been set up by the charity Support Through Court (formerly the Personal Support Unit), and will operate five days a week from Birmingham City University’s law clinic.

The launch follows a successful four-month pilot last year, when over 3,000 calls about housing, money claims, divorce and child arrangements were handled by volunteers.

The helpline has been funded by trusts and foundations, and Support Through Court patron Martin Lewis, who has donated £57,685 to ensure the helpline can run for the next two years.

He said: “Too many people now go through court alone, without legal aid, leaving us with a deficit of justice. Support Through Court has done great work for many years, and I’m a big fan of helplines, so I am delighted to be involved in making this happen, as an efficient way to help more people get such crucial back-up.”

Support Through Court currently operates with around 750 volunteers in 20 court centres, but chief executive Eileen Pereira said that left 90% of courts across England and Wales uncovered.

“The helpline will go far in contributing directly to empowering more people who have to navigate the complex and stressful court system on their own,” she said.

When he became a patron in late 2018, Mr Lewis said: “People are being forced to represent themselves, even though most have a very limited understanding of the court system and the law. That is not a properly functioning legal system, and it makes you question whether they will get justice, when it matters most.

“People need support and someone to stand by their side… Civil justice is not a well-known or popular cause, but the emotional and often financial toll on people facing court alone is significant…

“It is vital that those facing these extremely difficult situations receive guidance and support at a time of crisis.”

    Readers Comments

  • Sam says:

    Great idea. However from my recent experience of defending myself and winning, though losing financially basically due to mismanagement by the court and a change of judge. They do not follow their own rules, and there is no where to report them to, as the Judicial Ombudsman only covers misconduct of a personal nature or bias, not case management misconduct/errors and when I asked them who does, they said the court. I said, thats like asking the police to investigate themselves, they agreed and so the judges are not accountable to anyone when they dont follow the correct case management process.

    I was taken to the small claims court, it cost me £10k+ to defend myself, won, 1.5 years and 2 main hearings and 2 experts, everyone Ive spoken to agrees it should have been a higher track because it was wrongly put in small track, I never got my costs back, purely due to the judge and court not managing the case correctly. And at the start they never gave me a defence pack. The other side served papers on 19th December, you have 14 days to reply, regardless of Christmas holidays, you can only imagine the stress I was put under, and that was the intention. The system of “justice” is a largely a myth unless you have pots of money or good help.

  • Wendy Stewart says:

    I have been trying to represent myself since 2016.
    I have been taken to court by a solicitor for none payment of bills that were charged for after the date I had told him that I would have to represent myself and my son who lacks mental capacity due to a brain tumour.I had filled in the correct form.In total we have paid this solicitor in excess of
    I have disputed that we owe. the money and I sent a letter of complaint in 2016 asking the solicitor to relook at my account.
    I said that I didn’t think he had represented our best interest as he hadn’t taken in to account my sons disability.
    He also didn’t send important documents to the other defendants solicitor until 6 months after we had asked him.
    He told us he had represented someone like my son before but when asked later in the case he said that he hadn’t.
    The solicitor then took us to Court for non payment.
    We have been to court hearings that they have asked for many times. This has prolonged our case which is now in its third year.They solicitor has asked for specialist Neuro psychiatrist to go through my sons medical notes since 2010 to 2019 because the said that my son didn’t lack capacity at the beginning of the case.This was found in our favour so the solicitor then asked for the specialist to relook at the notes.Again it came back in our favour.
    The solicitor then put in another witness statement saying that he disagreed with the specialist.
    Now after all this time he has now put a form stating that he is discontinuing the claim.
    I need legal help and guidance what I have to do next.
    I have read that the complainant who discontinues will be liable to my cost as a litigant in person.
    The problem is how do I claim them?
    I have contacted various Solicitors who haven’t been able to help me .
    Do I write to the judge?
    What do I have to produce as evidence.I have four cases of documents that I have written including emails and notes where I have had to look for help.
    I hope that you can help me please.I have been involved with this solicitor since 2014 .I wish that I had never gone to him and that he hadn’t told me that he could deal with the case.I realise now it’s too late that he has taken advantage of us.
    I am 77 years old and for the last six years I have trying my best to support my son and I wanted to see justice in our case.I have become reliant on tablets to help me through every dayI am attending hospital and really don’t know what I’m doing
    Thanking you in anticipation
    Wendy Stewart

  • Lyudmyla Lovett says:

    Justice! What Justice?!!
    Litigant in Person…
    It is – like letting a 5 year old child to fight on the boxing ring against a Professional Boxer and then to reward a win to the “STRONGEST.”
    It is absolute absurd.
    I believe, by allowing it, UK LAW and Civil Court have let down many hundreds of dissent people, who honestly believed in TRUTH and JUSTICE and who were pushed or who were naive enough to step into litigation themselves.
    Statistics ( and some of those peoples own testimonials) shows, that most of such LiPs lives were destroyed.
    Before and During the Court Trials and Court Case Management they were “professionally” bitten to near death and have lost nearly everything including their health and self respect.
    In most cases Judges rewarded victory to the “PROFESSIONAL BOXERS”.
    In the rare cases where Lips have Won (or proved that they were honest) – they still lost nearly everything they had and never was given any direction or help from Court on how and where to recover their losses.
    I know. I’ve been there.

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