Not for the Faint of Heart: The Right to Self-Representation in New Zealand
45 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 25, 2017
The approach of common law jurisdictions to the right to self-representation is contradictory. Although strongly upheld, in practice its exercise is challenging and frowned upon. Discourse around self-represented litigants is often negative and frames these individuals as problematic for the civil justice system. This paper seeks to reframe the self-representation debate. Firstly, I explain the context behind the self- representation phenomenon and explore why this rise in self-represented litigants is viewed negatively. I then evaluate options for reform, before acknowledging that there will always be some disparity between parties to a civil dispute. Nonetheless, I reaffirm the importance of the right to self-representation in New Zealand despite recent calls for its removal or restriction. The self-representation phenomenon is indicative of a wider issue of access to civil justice, which must be addressed for meaningful change to occur.
Keywords: Self-representation, self-represented litigants, access to justice, civil justice, courts.
JEL Classification: K00, K10.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation