The Society of McKenzie Friends
Instead of instructing a solicitor or barrister, the people who choose to represent themselves at court, are entitled to the reasonable assistance of a friend (known as a McKenzie Friend). In doing so the task is not as daunting as it may sound, especially if you have the help of a McKenzie Friend to assist in preparing the case beforehand and to sit alongside you in court.
Solicitors and barristers must adhere to standards of conduct and there are regulatory bodies to ensure that they do, but there is no equivalent regulator controlling the activities of McKenzie Friends. Anyone can call themselves a McKenzie Friend.
For that reason, the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends was formed, as a self-regulatory body, to protect consumers and courts. Members are vetted to ensure they are competent, insured, and comply with court rules and good practice.
A McKenzie Friend may:
- provide moral support for the LIP
- take notes
- help with case papers
- quietly give advice on:
- points of law or procedure
- issues that the litigant may wish to raise in court
- questions the litigant may wish to ask witnesses.
A McKenzie Friend may not:
- act on behalf of an LIP
- act as the LIP’s agent in relation to the proceedings
- manage the case outside court, for example, by signing court documents.
- address the court, nor examine any witnesses.
However, in exceptional circumstances, a judge may grant a McKenzie Friend what is termed “right of audience” in a particular case. The McKenzie Friend would then be allowed to address the court and conduct the litigant’s case for him, as a solicitor or barrister would normally do.