Our legal system gives every individual the right to represent himself or herself in legal proceedings before the courts. The judicial system however can be a very complex process, not only in the courtroom, but also in the proceedings leading up to court appearances. There are often many forms and documents to be completed and witnesses to summon. It is also essential to note that while one party may choose self-representation, the other party may have representation by a lawyer. Lawyers are specialists in the field of law and may request that the Rules of Court and the rules of evidence be strictly followed throughout the proceeding. As a self-represented litigant, you will be expected to follow these rules and may find little leniency for errors. Although the presiding judge will likely explain the general procedure to you, he or she will neither conduct your case for you nor act as your lawyer.
Should you decide to proceed with self-representation, note that each court may have different forms and procedures. Therefore, you should thoroughly investigate and prepare for the legal process well in advance. In certain limited circumstances you may qualify for a government funded lawyer. For further information please see Legal Aid.