Leading barrister Michael Todd QC warned today that many will be denied "effective access" to justice because of government legal aid cuts.
The chairman of the Bar Council - which represents barristers in England and Wales - said litigants representing themselves will become "the rule rather than the exception" in the wake of a raft of changes to legal services funding.
Writing in legal magazine Counsel, Mr Todd also questioned whether ministers had assessed the additional costs the criminal justice system will face thanks to spending cuts.
Mr Todd said "damage has been done" by cuts in criminal defence fees, cuts to the Crown Prosecution Service budget and the provisions of legislation relating to legal aid, sentencing and punishment.
"Whole swathes of legal services have been removed from the scope of legal aid for family work," he wrote.
"Access to justice has always been too expensive for most people.
"These cuts will ensure that access to justice will be denied to many more. When I say access to justice, I mean effective access to justice.
"Self-representing litigants can always appear before the courts in person but what prospects do they have of putting forward their best case?"