As a pro se litigant I have come across a judge referring in their minutes to a resource which is barely available to the general public. It is a loose leaf written by lawyers for lawyers on peculiarities of civil procedure which is constantly updated.

The cheapest option to get access to it is to pay $2k yearly subscription to the publisher. This price itself is not even publicly available. The publisher's website states "POA" (price on application), and I had to submit two POA requests plus a support request to finally get the offer.

I also tried public libraries. Some have that resource but outdated, and they no longer subscribe to it.

It is understandable that:

  1. Pro se litigation is not very common; and
  2. Lawyers are all subscribed to those kind of resources.

Still, representing yourself in court is a right, as is the right of natural justice. Does this not mean that there should be a right of access to whatever resources the judicial decisions that affect you refer to? Or would that $2k subscription fall into the category of litigation costs that I would be able to claim if I win?

Alternatively, could I perhaps seek that, instead of referring to a high-paywall resource, the judge refers to whatever underlying cases/laws the referenced provision is based on?

Answers for any English-centric jurisdiction are welcome, though specifically interested in New Zealand.

  • Where is this ? – Dale M May 2 '19 at 5:32
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    It depends on what the "resource" is. If it's material created by a private party, that's quite different from, say, the published opinions of a court. – Acccumulation May 2 '19 at 21:56
  • @Acccumulation It is a periodically updated book written by a group of lawyers, a "bible" of every civil procedure lawyer in NZ. Being an author of the book makes them highly respectful to the point that it plays a role in Attorney-General's publicly announced decision to appoint them a High Court judge. – Greendrake May 2 '19 at 22:23
  • @Greendrake I take it that these "minutes" are a record of some meeting. Is that right? If so, what was the meeting? If not, what are these minutes? And how did the judge refer to or use this resource? – Just a guy Dec 1 '19 at 14:04
  • @Greendrake Finally, what exactly is in this "resource."? Does it simply compile the most current rulings or statements by judges? Or does it offer analysis of those rulings? – Just a guy Dec 1 '19 at 14:08

It is not the court's function to educate you in the law and civil procedure. If you don't know then the onus is on you to learn at whatever cost that comes at in time and money.

You have a right to justice - you don't have a right to zero cost justice. Just like having a right to bear arms doesn't entitle you to a free gun.

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    That's fair enough. A part of the question is that if I pay $2k for that resource, would that be appropriate litigation cost to claim later? – Greendrake May 2 '19 at 5:45
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    @Greendrake It may be worth it then to find a lawyer that has that resource and pay them to educate you on the specific part that the judge is referring to. It may be an hours worth of consultation for a couple hundred $'s, versus buying the publication and working through which part applies to you. – Ron Beyer May 2 '19 at 14:17
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    @Greendrake That may be a worthwhile separate question, as what you can get compensated for as "legal fees" may not be exactly what you paid, depending on the case and jurisdiction. There may instead be a somewhat blanket rate for "adequate counsel" and "reasonable costs" or some such thing, and if you had better or more expensive ones than that then you pay for the extra yourself. As such Ron's suggestion may be both cheaper and more likely to be reimbursed if you win legal fees in the judgment. – zibadawa timmy May 3 '19 at 0:20
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    DaleM is saying that the natural state of affairs is not having a gun, not understanding quantum physics and not understanding civil procedure. – George White Oct 4 '19 at 17:07
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    A normal public library wouldn't have this, but a law library might. – George White Oct 4 '19 at 17:08

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