Is it safe to learn from the Internet?
The internet is a marvellous thing. How amazing is it, the power that we have at our fingertips to find the answer to almost any question, or to learn how to do almost anything. But, is this always a good thing. Perhaps not when it comes to the law.
When taking research into our own hands, for some of the more complex subjects our beloved search engineers can often be a little limited. And, possibly, like the media we only get a snippet of the true story or half the information. This could be dangerous indeed, particularly in the legal arena.
Can the Google teach you how to represent yourself in court?
Since a cut in the funds available for legal aid, the courts are seeing more and more cases where people are choosing to represent themselves. This person is known as a “Litigant in Person” and it is often the case that all the information and legal knowledge that they have prepared has come from the internet. Let’s face it there is plenty of legal information readily available, however, the information is one thing but understanding how it is interpreted by the Court is something else. This knowledge only comes from a long, arduous legal education and vast experience. Definitely not something you can learn from the internet overnight.
The dangers of DIY litigation are very real
Imagine as a Litigant in Person turning up in the Court feeling confident about your case and pleased with all the hard work and preparation you have invested, knowing where you stand with the law and believing you know your entitlement only to feel completely out of your depth only minutes into the case. By this point, it is too late to back pedal and get professional advice or professional litigation funding.
At this point, the opportunity to try and achieve the best possible outcome for the case has passed and is now lost. A danger of “do it yourself” litigation. Seeking professional advice is always the recommended approach to any court case. Sadly this does often cost but it could be that there are options of litigation funding or even third party litigation funding. Without the financial worry of expensive legal fees, your chances of reaching the best possible outcome is certainly within reach.
The cost of litigation can be overwhelming
This Litigant in Person situation often arises in family law cases where it can be a difficult time to talk or to confide in a person outside of your close family circle. This is worth overcoming as professional advice can be the difference between winning or losing a case. That could be the custody of a child or visiting rights amongst other things.
The overwhelming legal costs that can be involved once you have instructed a solicitor is another reason to attempt the case alone with only Goolge by your side, but be clear that this is not the best option and often amounts to greater costs in the long run, even if they are not purely financial.
It seems there is a price to pay either way, but be aware that DIY litigation can be a dangerous game because the price you pay may not necessarily be monetary and you may lose something you can never get back.
Have you ever represented yourself in court? Share your experience with us in the comments.