You have the right to represent yourself in court although the advisability of doing this will rather depend on the complexity of your case and the formality of the forum.
As well as the cost savings (although bear in mind that in many cases if you win, all or part of your legal costs will be paid by the other side), the other advantage of representing yourself is the opportunity to truly say what you feel rather than having your views filtered through a solicitor or barrister.
On the other hand, being too candid in court may ultimately undermine your case or even put you in contempt of court.
Bear in mind also that you are likely to be facing a solicitor or barrister on the other side.
Opposing lawyers are required by most courts to explain complex legal and procedural points to you if you are not legally-qualified.
In most cases, you may have a friend or a representative who is not a solicitor to assist you in court as long as you inform the court in advance.
Some forums – such as the Small Claims Court and some tribunals - are set-up specifically to allow people to represent themselves.
In these cases, judges and tribunal chairs will give more flexibility to procedural matters but even here there are a few does and don'ts that will make sure your case is heard.
Preparation is key. Your local trading standards office or Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to give you advice on the best way to present your claim.
Prepare a opening statement of your case or claim and make sure that you have any documents you are using as evidence with you and organised so you can refer to them in the courtroom or tribunal. Prepare questions for witnesses in advance.
Try to anticipate what objections the other side is likely to raise to your arguments and how you will counter these objections.
Concentrate on the facts of the dispute rather than any moral arguments and try to avoid becoming too emotional. Which facts are in dispute and which are agreed between the parties?
Try to put yourself in the judge's shoes – which aspects of the case are most likely sway their opinion? Don't assume that the judge or tribunal chair already knows everything about your case.
Make sure you have complied with the directions of the court or tribunal. These will be sent to you at least 14 days before the hearing date.
Ensure that any witnesses you intend to call are aware of the court date and are able to attend.
Take notes of what is said throughout the hearing and be prepared to amend your closing statements and questions accordingly. Take particular note of any apparent weaknesses in your opposition's case. Take notes of the judge's order at the end – may be some weeks before it is available in writing from the court.
Finally, if your primary reason for representing yourself is the cost of legal advice, you may be best to first look into whether you could get legal advice for free (see Paying for legal advice).