Learning legal capability

It has been a while since our last newsletter, but with good reason. Over the summer we've been busy developing and delivering legal capability sessions with three London advice agencies.

And now through the autumn and winter we are part of a project, with four other partners, to address the needs of people who have to represent themselves in court - self represented litigants.  This is a Ministry of Justice funded initiative to address concerns, highlighted in the Civil Justice Council report 'Access to Justice for Litigants in Person', that cuts to legal aid, to be implemented in April 2013, will significantly increase the numbers of self represented litigants.

Law for Life's role in this project is twofold.  We are working with the Personal Support Unit at the Royal Courts of Justice to develop a training programme for their volunteers to equip them to support and assist self represented litigants, particularly around accessing and using on-line information.

We will also be working with advice agencies and community groups, providing training to their staff and developing learning resources that they can use to help prevent their users and clients from ending up in court unnecessarily, and to support them more effectively when they do need to go to court.

As a result of this work we will have the beginnings of a full package of resources and support for organisations undertaking PLE, including learning materials, teachers' notes and guidance, training for staff on how to deliver public legal education, plus support including co-delivery.

Please get in touch if you would like to be involved in this work, particularly to participate in training sessions or to run PLE sessions in your community.

Read more about the Self Represented Litigants Project and the Legal Capability Project.

Martin Jones
Director, Law for LIfe

Namati: Innovations in legal empowerment

Namati pursues the dream that all people are able to exercise their rights and take part in the process of governing. This is a new international organisation committed to legal empowerment. Working in partnership with civil society groups and governments, Namati develops, implements and evaluates different models of interventions. Their commitment grew out of empowerment initiatives in war-torn Sierra Leone by ‘Timap for Justice’ and has spread throughout West Africa and South Asia and beyond. Namati now hosts the global legal empowerment network to cultivate a more robust movement for legal empowerment.  Read more about Namati and the global network here.

Global Legal Empowerment Network 

Better information at court

A review of court forms and guidance, undertaken by Advicenow at Advice Services Alliance on behalf of the Civil Justice Council, reveals ineffective guidance and poor quality information across the range of Court Service documentation.

The report recommends that the situation could be significantly improved by putting the needs of litigants first when producing official forms and guidance.

More on the Advicenow report.

RCJ Advice Bureau Guides

In contrast, Advicenow's guides for the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau are an excellent example of how to produce effective information.

Highly recommended.

RCJ Advice Bureau guides
(See links at bottom of page)

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