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Fifteen stories: litigants in person in the civil justice sytem

Leader, Kathryn (2017) Fifteen stories: litigants in person in the civil justice sytem. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.oyitbg8pvut8


Litigants in Person [LiPs] have a poor reputation in legal scholarship. Routinely labelled ‘pests’, ‘nuts’, ‘weirdos’, and worse, LiPs are often posited as a problem for the courts. This perception has only been aggravated by the passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act in April 2013 which ended legal aid for the majority of litigants in non-criminal cases. And yet, despite these pejorative attitudes, we know surprisingly little about LiPs. Historically marginalised in scholarship, LiPs are rarely spoken about, and almost never spoken to. This thesis sets out in part to redress this by putting their experiences at the centre of this research. Drawing on fifteen oral history life stories with LiPs, this thesis asks: what is going to law like for them? In addition to adding LiP experiences to the record, though, this thesis also sets out to consider what LiP experiences can tell us about access to justice. This thesis contends that LiPs face far more challenging difficulties than has heretofore been recognised in research. Moreover, this thesis argues that these difficulties are, counter to popular perception, not problems inherent to LiPs, but are instead indicative of systemic inadequacies in the civil justice system itself, a system which theoretically provides access for LiPs but which excludes them in all meaningful ways. Ultimately, I argue that until reform addresses the systematic inequality embedded in the civil justice system, LiPs are doomed to fail.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Kathryn Leader
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Mulcahy, Linda and Lacey, Nicola

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