You are not Rumpole of the Bailey: As more people represent themselves in court, the Bar Council has issued some pressing advice

 

People who are forced to represent themselves in court as legal aid budgets are cut should not attempt to imitate the fast-talking lawyers they see on television, according to a new "idiot's guide".

New rules coming into force today will deny legal aid to tens of thousands of people who would have previously been entitled to it.

In an attempt to prevent the cost-cutting reforms causing chaos in courts, The Bar Council has produced a layman's guide to representing yourself in a civil action – including important points of courtroom etiquette.

Included are such helpful hints as: "Make sure you speak loudly, slowly and clearly."

It continues: "You might be tempted to speak like lawyers on TV. Resist this temptation. Lawyers do not really speak like that. Some bad lawyers do, but judges hate it."

On the question of courtoom courtesies, it advises: "Make sure you know what you are supposed to be calling the judge and whether you are supposed to stand up every time you speak (ask the usher beforehand if you are unsure). If you cannot find the usher, just say: 'Sir' or 'Madam'."

The 74-page manual has been compiled with the help of leading barristers.

As well as reminding litigants-in-person to dress smartly and turn up early, it warns: "Always be completely honest with the judge and with any officials. There can be very serious consequences if you deliberately lie or even bend the truth."

The booklet, titled A Guide to Representing Yourself in Court, also includes advice on how to find free or affordable help, put together your own case, defend a claim, represent yourself in court and deal with specific areas of law. With the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LAPSO) coming into force today, the number of people who will qualify for funding will be cut by a huge 75 per cent.

As many as 200,000 individuals a year – in cases dealing with issues such as family, personal injury, employment and immigration – will be affected. The Bar Council said it had put together the manual because it refused to "stand by as vulnerable people suffer".

Some in the legal world fear that the reforms, which are intended to save £350m, could result in vulnerable people being excluded from seeking legal redress.

The most senior judge in the UK, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger, has told The Independent he feared that such changes risked denying justice to people. Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: "We are faced with a situation whereby access to justice is no longer being adequately funded and vulnerable people will suffer. That is wrong, but it would be equally wrong for the profession to stand by and do nothing. That should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of the Government's position; it is because we genuinely believe that access to justice must be our primary consideration."

TV lawyers: behaviour to avoid

Ally McBeal

Boston's temperamental fast-talking TV lawyer won global audiences for her passionate, off-the-cuff style. But a more considered, and less personal, approach should be used in real life.

Clive Reader

Suave and ferociously ambitious, Rupert Penry-Jones may act the part in the BBC series, Silk, but expect any amateur imitation to jar. Honesty is key.

Kavanagh QC

John Thaw was ITV's gruff and principled defence lawyer.

Vinny Gambini

Arriving in Alabama to defend his cousin, Joe Pesci's encounters with the judge in 'My Cousin Vinny' included falling asleep in court and arriving late, in a leather jacket. All are best avoided.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game