A collaboration between two barristers – one as author the other as publisher – has resulted in a new book to help self-represented litigants navigate the judicial system successfully.
Hamilton-based barrister Martin Dillon has published his book ‘Civil Litigation For Non Lawyers’, which is available on Amazon and is the first of its kind in New Zealand.
Dillon has worked in private practice, in-house and as a prosecutor with a wide variety of criminal and civil litigation experience under his belt.
Published by The Legal Drive, a legal tech and publishing company operated by Auckland barrister Steve Keall published the book, which both men see as a key towards improving access to justice in New Zealand.
“Improving access to justice is a problem without an easy solution. Lawyers can be expensive, legal aid funding scarce, free help is rare, and progressing a case without a lawyer can be risky,” Martin Dillon says.
“This book began as a series of articles to help beginners understand some legal processes and dispute resolution options.
“They set out the kind of general information I had often repeated to clients and lawyers without litigation experience. Better-informed clients make better-informed decisions, and if the cost of accessing knowledge can be minimised then that is all for the good. “
Although the book doesn’t pretend that self representation is a substitute for specific legal advice there is nonetheless an increase in self-represented litigation with some tribunals actively promoting the process.
“Self-representation can overcome an economic barrier to entry into court systems, but then cause significant delays from there. Some delays are to do with rules of procedure. Broadly, these rules try to make sure everyone gets fair opportunity to have their say and then receive an impartial decision.
“But the rules can be so many and so detailed that cases get tangled up in them.”
Steve Keall, an insurance barrister and the editor and publisher, approached Dillon to write the book as a standalone e-book so that all the resources were in one place.
LawFuel reported Keall’s ‘Two Bees’ court cost software recently, an innovation to assist litigants and lawyers alike to assess court costs.
“I am very pleased to be involved with this worthwhile project which is aimed at helping ordinary people get along a bit better in the civil Court system.
The book contains chapters on commencing a civil claim in the District Court and the High Court. It also provides information about proceedings in other forums like the Disputes Tribunal and the Tenancy Tribunal.
In each case, Dillon breaks down exactly what needs to happen and how it is done. The book also links to online forms prepared by him. He does so in easy-to-understand language and avoids jargon.