A Defence of the Right to Litigate in Person
This review article examines Rabeea Assy’s case against granting litigants a general right to self-representation in civil proceedings. Assy argues that this right confers no significant value in terms of enforcing litigants’ substantive rights, or promoting their personal autonomy or satisfaction. In response, this review questions the limitations that Assy consciously imposes on his own analysis. He puts to one side, for instance, the question of litigants’ wealth, or their means to hire a lawyer. The focus of his argument is also limited to what he calls ‘ordinary’ civil litigation between individuals. His hope is to pitch the argument as a general contest between values. The effect of these limitations is to lose sight of the context in which self- representation takes place. Assy’s book reveals much about the foundations of the right to self-representation, but, when we consider the complications of the law in practice, he discounts too readily the contribution that the right of self-representation makes to the continuing legitimacy of the legal system.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Keywords: Self-representation; Civil justice; Courts; Access to justice
Research Type: Journal Article