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Jun 20, 2019

Adam Black speaks to the Law Times about the challenges self-represented litigants face

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Self-represented litigants are typically able to expect some flexibility from the judicial process, but there are risks when they try to manage a case without a lawyer, illustrated by a significant costs award in a recent family law case, some family lawyers observe.

While access to justice has become an issue of great concern in family courts, some who venture into a courtroom without legal representation do it as a matter of strategy, says Adam Black, a Torkin Manes LLP partner in Toronto.

In Kirby v. Kirby, Katherine Kirby made the decision to proceed on her own, without the assistance of a lawyer. But that approach ended up backfiring, costing her $150,000 in costs.

“The litigant has been found, consequently liable for costs. I guess that's the warning signal for those who make this strategic decision,” says Black. “The message I would take away is deciding to represent yourself for strategic reasons and then prolonging a case unnecessarily may give rise to some cost exposure.”

This article originally appeared in the Law Times. Visit the Law Times online to read the complete interview. 

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