People braving the court system without a lawyer now make up the majority of civil cases - more than 13,000 a year - deepening fears that justice is more available to those who can pay.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says the figures obtained by the Herald show a concerning trend. He worries that if civil courts become further out of reach, Kiwis will "become prey to society's powerful interests".

The Ministry of Justice recently started collecting data on self-representation, after the NZ Law Society and Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann warned of a "justice gap", because many can't afford hefty lawyers'

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Self-representation: Like fronting school assembly, but with more paperwork