Injustice in Person: The Right to Self-Representation

Hardcover | July 4, 2015

byRabeea Assy

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In common law jurisdictions, litigants are free to choose whether to procure legal representation or litigate in person. There is no formal requirement that civil litigants obtain legal representation, and the court has no power to impose it on them, regardless of whether the litigant has thefinancial means to hire a lawyer or is capable of conducting litigation effectively. Self-representation is considered indispensable even in circumstances of extreme abuse of process, such as in "vexatious litigation". Intriguingly, although self-representation is regarded as sacrosanct in commonlaw jurisdictions, most civil law systems take a diametrically opposite view and impose obligations of legal representation as a condition for conducting civil litigation, except in low-value claims courts or specific tribunals. This disparity presents a conundrum in comparative law: an unfetteredfreedom to proceed in person is afforded in those legal systems that are more reliant on the litigants' professional skills and whose rules of procedure and evidence are more formal, complex, and adversarial, whereas legal representation tends to be made obligatory in systems that are judge-basedand offer more flexible and informal procedures, which would seem, intuitively, to be more conducive to self-representation.In Injustice in Person: The Right to Self Representation, Rabeea Assy assesses the theoretical value of self-representation, and challenges the conventional wisdom that this should be a fundamental right. With a fresh perspective, Assy develops a novel justification for mandatory legalrepresentation, exploring a number of issues such as the requirements placed by the liberal commitment to personal autonomy on the civil justice system; the utility of plain English projects and the extent to which they render the law accessible to lay people; and the idea that a high degree oflitigant control over the proceedings enhances litigants' subjective perceptions of procedural fairness. On a practical level, the book discusses the question of mandatory representation against the case law of English and American courts and also that of the European Court of Human Rights, theInternational Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Human Rights Committee.

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In common law jurisdictions, litigants are free to choose whether to procure legal representation or litigate in person. There is no formal requirement that civil litigants obtain legal representation, and the court has no power to impose it on them, regardless of whether the litigant has thefinancial means to hire a lawyer or is capab...

Dr Rabeea Assy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Haifa Law Faculty and a regular speaker at the University of Oxford. In 2011 Dr Assy obtained his DPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Clarendon Scholar and a Modern Law Review grantee. His LLB and LLM (ranked 1st in class, summa cum laude) were completed at t...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pagesPublished:July 4, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199687447

ISBN - 13:9780199687442

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Unasked Question2. English and American Jurisdictions3. The ICTY's Jurisprudence4. Simplifying Legal Language5. The Judge's Mantle and the Advocate's Robe6. Lay Representation and McKenzie Friends7. Losers-But Choosers8. Litigant Satisfaction9. Reconsidering the Right to Self-RepresentationConclusion

Editorial Reviews

"There is a critical justice gap in the western world. Slow, overpriced, and even overdrawn legal systems are leaving more and more people 'outside the law'. Many people are responding with self-help as litigants. Legal systems are discomforted by this, and ill equipped to accommodate thismodern day phenomenon. This important monograph starts in the right place: with the importance of access to justice. One distinctly arguable response is individualism, which then calls on these legal systems to accommodate it in a much fuller way than they presently have. This is an important andchallenging book in the context of one of the important issues, not just for law, but of our time." --Hon Sir Grant Hammond KNZM, President of the New Zealand Law Commission, Sometime Dean of Law at the University of Auckland, Former Judge of the New Zealand Court of Appeal