Monday, 1 June 2009

Opening the courthouse doors

Courts can facilitate access by litigants who do not have counsel, paid or pro bono. They might provide simplified procedures, translation services, and, as in the case of the U.S. Tax Court, videos on how a pro se litigant can proceed. The Court expects to start mailing DVDs of the video shortly to unrepresented taxpayers.

What other steps can courts take to accommodate unrepresented litigants? In what situations are these measures most appropriate? What are opposing counsel’s duties and concerns in such a case? Does it matter if opposing counsel represents the government?

Posted by Robin Westbrook
IBA Pro bono and Access to Justice Committee


  1. This is a timely topic for many jurisdictions in Canada. There is a general sense that court systems are not working well for many users, who are paying for the system through tax dollars. In many provinces and territories in Canada, reforms and initiatives such as self-help kits, mediation, case management conferences, drop-in centres, portals, court staff training, videos, audio downloads, duty counsel, courtworkers, access to online forms and how to guides, public legal information, simplified procedures, etc. are being piloted and implemented. The Canadaian Forum on Civil Justice has compiled an inventory of reforms available online at

  2. Pam - thank you for this link! We have now put it onto our site. We encourage others to submit links like this as well, through the comments here or by submitting them through the site itself.