The snakes and ladders of legal participation: litigants in person and the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights

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Abstract

This article reviews the right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights for litigants in person (LIPs). LIPs operate in a system that was not designed for them and so challenge the norm of fully represented parties that the system has evolved to expect, creating potential risks for their Article 6 rights. The jurisprudence on Article 6 reveals the centrality of effective participation as a requirement for fulfilling the right to a fair trial. The article views the jurisprudential interpretation against original and significant empirical research data on how LIPs participate in civil and family court processes. It applies a conceptual analysis of legal participation to consider what might constitute effective participation in court proceedings and, through the empirical evidence, categorizes the intellectual, practical, emotional, and attitudinal barriers that LIPs face in their legal proceedings, which can constitute risks to their rights under Article 6.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-92
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Volume49
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The empirical research conducted for this article was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, with additional support provided by Ulster University's Civic Impact Fund, and we gratefully acknowledge the significance and generosity of that funding. We would like to thank Nicole Busby, Laura Lundy, Tom Mullen, and Emily Rose for their feedback and support, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments in developing this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Law and Society published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cardiff University (CU)

Keywords

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

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