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PAST EVENT: Dealing with Litigants in Person – Top Tips for Family Lawyers

31st December 2023
Live Webinar
00:00 - 00:00
View the Recording and Slides Free of Charge -(members), Purchase the Recording and Slides for £25 plus VAT - (non members)

This webinar was presented live on Wednesday 22 November 2023

Presenter: Gemma Kemp, Pennington Manches Cooper 

Recording & Slides Available Free of Charge to Members – Contact SLS Office for Access Details


As family law practitioners, we are coming across litigants in person (LIP) more frequently. The statistics provide that it is only in approximately 20% of family court cases where both parties have legal representation, and there are a number of reasons why a person might want to represent themselves. This could be for financial reasons, particularly since access to public funding has been significantly reduced. In other circumstances, a person may choose to be a LIP so as to torment our clients, for example by bombarding us with communications, with a view to unnecessary increasing our client’s costs.

Working with LIPs can be challenging, particularly given the emotional and sensitive nature of the subject matter (usually the breakdown of their family unit). As lawyers, we have a duty to treat LIPs with respect, even when that is not reciprocated. This course will look at how we can try to mange difficult personalities and situations, whilst putting our client’s best interests first and foremost.

We will consider:

  • What potential issues might arise with LIPs;
  • Different types of personalities and LIPs;
  • Our duties as lawyers;
  • Do’s and Don’ts and practical tips;
  • How to look after ourselves.


About Gemma Kemp 


Gemma Kemp is a Senior Associate solicitor in the family team at Penningtons Manches Cooper, and is based in the firm’s Guildford office. Gemma has been recognised as a Key Lawyer and ‘Rising Star’ in the 2022 and 2023 editions of The Legal 500 (the world’s leading legal directory).

Gemma is a member of Resolution and a Resolution accredited specialist in the areas of complex finances (mid to high net worth) and private children matters. Gemma is also a regional Resolution committee member (for Surrey). Gemma is dedicated to helping others in the profession and is a trained Resolution mentor and a mentor for students at the University of Law. Gemma is involved in the firm’s initiative to mentor university students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and is a member of the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility and charities committees. Gemma is chair of governors at a Surrey based primary school, with particular responsibility for safeguarding and staff wellbeing.


Gemma advises both married and unmarried clients in relation their separation and the financial issues which arise from that. Gemma’s cases often involve significant assets (including businesses and trusts) and/or high incomes, and she has acted for a number of clients who are in the public eye. Gemma’s cases often involve complex financial matters and/or have an international element. Gemma also advises those who have been in a relationship but chosen not to get married, in relation to their legal position and in relation to the law regarding financial support for their children under Schedule 1.


Gemma is passionate about and has particular expertise in representing clients in relation to children matters, including specific issues, such as disputes about changing a child’s name, choice of school, consent to vaccinations/medical treatment, relocation – both within the UK and international, parental alienation allegations and implacable hostility and cases involving allegations of abuse (including those requiring fact finding hearings). Gemma also advises grandparents, step parents and other family members about if, when and how the laws in relation to children apply to them.


Gemma has expertise in advising on domestic and international surrogacy arrangements, and provides legal and practical advice to surrogates and intended parents in respect of their legal position. Gemma guides her clients through the relevant legal processes and offers them bespoke advice and assistance from pre-conception through to representing them at the final hearing for a Parental Order.