Oral Answers to Questions — Litigants (Representation)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North 12:00, 1 December 1969

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware that, under many of the Government's appeal boards, provision is made for an appellant to be represented by a friend or his trade union official; and whether he will take steps to make such facilities permissible in the various courts of law.

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

It may be that in referring to the Government's appeal boards my hon. Friend has in mind the various administrative tribunals, which are of course wholly independent of the Government. The county courts and the magistrates' courts already have power to allow litigants to be represented by someone who is not legally qualified. I do not think it would be advantageous to litigants to extend this power to the higher civil and criminal courts.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Surely it is up to the appellant himself or the person concerned if he or she would like to be represented by someone other than a legal gentleman? Surely the person they select should be allowed to represent them? Surely we believe in freedom in this matter?

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

Yes, but it would be unfortunate for a litigant to encourage the idea that unskilled representation would do him any good.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Does the Attorney-General realise that if the suggestion embodied in the Question were acceded to it would result in considerable injustice through the use of persons not learned in the law and not having undergone legal training?

Photo of Sir Elwyn Jones Sir Elwyn Jones , West Ham South

I have nothing to add to my previous answer.