Form E error highlights need for support for Litigants in Person

News Release

21 Jan 2016

Commenting on the Legal Aid Minister's update to Parliament on the recently-exposed errors in Form E, Jo Edwards, Chair of Resolution, said:

"It is only right that the Justice Minister has apologised for the MoJ’s failure. Whilst the Form E error has not impacted as many couples as first feared, for the 3,600 cases affected the consequences may be profound. Two-thirds of those have ended already.

"The outcome in those cases may well have been different but for the error and now those affected will now have to decide whether they wish to re-open their cases, or will be looking over their shoulder wondering if their ex-spouse will do so. Although no court fees will be charged for any cases being re-opened, legal fees will be incurred by those taking advice.

"But most of those affected will have been litigants in person, now left to sort this out on their own. It is unfortunate that so many self-represented litigants have relied upon the Government's online Form E tool and now potentially face having their cases reopened.

"Since the legal aid cuts in April 2013, the number of cases in which both parties have no representation has trebled, to around 31% of private law cases. Only last week the House of Commons Library published a paper on the rise of litigants in person in civil proceedings which highlighted that they tended to lack the knowledge and skills required to conduct their case efficiently. To expect them to have to navigate the system a second time is unfortunate"