Lay Litigant
A person who represents himself in legal proceedings. Such a person is entitled to appear in court and be heard. The trial cases involving lay litigants require that trial judges ensure on the one hand that justice is not put at risk by the absence of expert legal representation, while also bearing in mind that the party with legal representation is not unfairly penalised because of that absence: RB v AS (Nullity: domicile) [2002 SC] 2 IR 428.

The Supreme Court has held that private expenditure of labour and trouble by lay litigants is not recoverable and cannot be measured by the courts; only legal costs can be measured and only solicitors who are on record for the litigant:
Dawson v Irish Brokers Association [2002 SC] 2 ILRM 210.

Also, save as otherwise provided by statute or by rules of court, the father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother or sister of any party may appear on behalf of that party in the District Court, provided such person has the leave of the court to appear and be heard, and that the court is satisfied that the party is, from infirmity or other unavoidable cause, unable to appear: DCR 1997 O 6 r 2.

Where an accused represents himself in a criminal trial and where during the trial proceedings, he is totally incompetent to defend himself, there is an even greater burden on the trial judge to ensure that the trial is in all respects above reproach:
The People (DPP) v Ramachchandron [2000 CCA] 2 IR 307.


Murdoch's Dictionary of Irish Law (Fifth Edition).
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