Definition

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    Litigant is defined as a party, or side involved in a lawsuit.

    California Superior Court. “English Legal Glossary” (2005)

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    A party to a lawsuit. Litigation refers to a case, controversy, or lawsuit.

    National Center for State Courts. “Glossary of Commonly Used Court & Justice System Terminology”, Rev. 2/8/11 (2011)

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    Litigant is a party to a legal action

    New York State Unified Court System. “Glossary of Legal Terms” (2016)

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    One who is engaged in a lawsuit.

    Missouri Press-Bar Commission. “News Reporter’s Legal Glossary” (2009)

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    A party in a civil action.

    Victoria Law Foundation. “Legal glossary” (2015)


Self-represented litigant

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    A person who does not have a lawyer to appear for them in court and who presents their case to the court themselves.

    Victoria Law Foundation. “Legal glossary” (2015)

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    "Self-represented litigant" means any individual who seeks information tofile, pursue, or respond to a civil case without the assistance of a lawyerauthorized to practice before the court.

    Supreme Court of Florida

The definition of a “self-represented litigant” is, thus, significant in any comparison of self-represented and attorney-represented litigants. Hannaford-Agor, Paula, and Nicole Mott. "Research on self-represented litigation: preliminary results and methodological considerations." Justice System Journal 24.2 (2003): 163-181.
The self-represented litigant is widely perceived as being both a cause and a casualty of problems in the judicial system. Observers often blame such litigants for many of the delays and inefficiencies that congest the courts and deplete scarce resources. ” Research has shown that litigants who represent themselves are indeed more likely to neglect time limits and miss court deadlines.

The increase in self-represented litigants is not limited to the United States. Other common law jurisdictions have experienced similar trends. In Hong Kong, for example, although precise numbers are unavailable, the increase is perceived to be significant. The concern has been voiced in all major common law jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Buhai, Sande L. “Access to Justice for Unrepresentated Litigants: A Comparative Perspective.” Loy. LAL Rev. 42 (2008): 979.


Vexatious litigant

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    A person shown to repeatedly file legal actions that have little or no merit.

    California Superior Court. “English Legal Glossary” (2005)

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    Vexatious" is defined as being "without reasonable ... cause or excuse; harassing; annoying."

    Black’s Law Dictionary 1559 (7th ed. 1999). Cited: Neveils, Deborah L. “Florida’s Vexatious Litigant Law: An End to the Pro Se Litigant’s Courtroom Capers.” Nova L. Rev. 25 (2000): 343.

The bill signed by Governor Jeb Bush on June 19, 2000 defined a “vexatious litigant” as “[a] person… who, in the immediately preceding 5-year period, has commenced, prosecuted, or maintained, pro se, five or more civil actions in any court in this state.., which actions have been finally and adversely determined against such person. Once a person has been labeled a vexatious litigant pursuant to the above definition, he or she retains the classification indefinitely.Neveils, Deborah L. "Florida's Vexatious Litigant Law: An End to the Pro Se Litigant's Courtroom Capers." Nova L. Rev. 25 (2000): 343.
The “Vexatious Litigant Statute” was designed to meet the problem of the persistent and obsessive litigant, appearing without an attorney– in propria persona-who had a number of groundless actions constantly pending, sometimes against judges and other court officers who were concerned in the adverse decisions of previous actions.

The statute sets out two alternative definitions of a vexatious litigant.

The first type of vexatious litigant is any person who, during the seven year period immediately preceding the action at bar, has commenced, prosecuted or maintained in propria persona at least five litigations (other than in small claims court) which have been finally determined against him or unjustifiably permitted to remain pending two years without having been brought to trial.

The second type is a person who, after a litigation has finally been determined against him, repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate in propria persona, against the same defendant or defendants, either the validity of such determination or the cause of action, claim, controversy or any of the issues of fact or law determined or concluded by the final determination.

Manwell, Edmund R. “The Vexatious Litigant.” California Law Review (1966): 1769-1804.