The Dangers of D.I.Y. Litigation

I often marvel at the fact that I can Google any question, however obscure, and, as if by magic, an answer will appear before me.  Is there anything that Google cannot answer or any topic which it does not cover?

For all its convenience, however, the danger with being able to get answers at the tips of our fingers is that with legal issues, particularly in my area of Family Law, Google is of limited use.

A case in point is a recent dispute between two related parties. One chose to represent himself having studied the relevant law online.  That person, known as a “Litigant in Person”, found, to his cost, that although information concerning the law is readily available online, an understanding of how it is interpreted by the Court only comes with experience and a knowledge of what weight a Judge will put on a particular issue.  That Litigant in Person went alone into Court, confident that he understood the law and believing that he knew his entitlement.  Within minutes he found himself totally out of his depth and it was too late for him to turn back the clock and seek professional advice.  What was lost to him was the opportunity to achieve his best outcome and while this benefited the client who had sought professional advice, it does remind me of the dangers of the “Do it yourself” approach.

Family disputes can be a very emotional time for some and it may be difficult to confide in a person outside of the family nucleus.  However, having seen the problems that the “Do it yourself” approach can cause, seeking advice from an experienced professional is always the best recommendation.

There is an obvious and understandable fear of the legal costs involved in instructing a Solicitor and this explains the temptation to attempt to do the best you can with the help of the Internet.  Although this may appear superficially attractive it is often not in the individuals best interests and almost inevitably leads to greater costs further down the line.

An understanding of the subtleties regarding the relevant and prevalent interpretation of the law can really only come with experience.  With more than 25 years of experience in the field and for an initial fixed consultation fee of £120, it would be false economy to go it alone and therefore much more advisable to avoid costs in the long run by appointing a professional at the outset.

Contact Julie Gallimore to discuss further.

Partner, Mediator, Collaborative and Family Lawyer