Congratulations to Prof Grainne McKeever (PI), Dr John McCord and Mark Potkewitz who have secured a 350K award from Nuffield for a two year project on the legal participation of litigants in person (LIPs) .
The PI’s Nuffield Foundation research on litigants in person (LIP) in Northern Ireland (2016-18) identifies the barriers to legal participation for those going to court without a lawyer, and how these barriers can jeopardise the litigant’s right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Building on this, the proposed project provides a new direction to develop practical tools for assisting LIPs to tackle the participation barriers. The first part of the project would use the existing dataset to develop a set of descriptors for the different types of legal participation experienced by LIPs in family proceedings cases. This would create a legal participation checklist that could be used by researchers in legal settings to identify whether the standard of effective participation required under Article 6 ECHR is being met. Ultimately, the checklist could be developed for court actors to identify participative gaps in court processes, and for future training of judges and accompanying judicial guidelines. The second part of the project proposes to work with a LIP Reference Group to co-produce information materials to support LIPs going through family proceedings; and to evaluate the effectiveness of the co-production method (which incorporates user feedback on the utility of the support materials) in addressing attitudinal barriers between court users and court actors.
Both parts lay the foundation for longitudinal/future assessment of attitudinal change and provide complementary components to develop the participative potential of LIPs so the state can meet its obligations under Article 6 ECHR. The project iis ntended to run from 01-07-2019 to 01-10-2021.