In this article, we’ll discuss what a McKenzie friend does, who can be one and where to find your McKenzie friend.
In England and Wales, you have the right to represent yourself in court without a solicitor or barrister. If you choose to attend court without legal representation, you will be known as a ‘litigant in person’.
Someone who accompanies you to court in order to help and support you is known as a McKenzie friend.
The name ‘McKenzie friend’ comes from a divorce case in 1970 called McKenzie v McKenzie.
People choose to represent themselves in court for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s due to not being able to pay legal costs. Or they may want to speak directly to the judge.
A McKenzie friend can sit with you in court and give you advice. They can also take notes and help with case papers.
There are some things a McKenzie friend cannot do, such as speaking in court (without permission from the judge), examining witnesses and filing court documents.
A friend or family member can be a McKenzie friend. There are also volunteer McKenzie friends who normally do not charge to go to court with you (these are usually attached to charities).
Alternatively, you could pay for a professional McKenzie friend to come with you to court. Professional McKenzie friends are not regulated. Some may be legally trained, others may not. So if this is important to you, it’s vital to do your research.
Yes, a McKenzie friend can be a family member.
You may know someone with legal experience (or previous court experience), in your family or circle of friends, who would be willing to come to court and provide moral support.
Alternatively, a quick online search will reveal a number of businesses advertising McKenzie friend services.
You could also search the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends’ online directory.
It is up to the judge whether or not you can have a McKenzie friend with you in court. However, permission for a McKenzie friend will not usually be refused unless the judge believes your McKenzie friend would interfere with the administration of justice.
A McKenzie friend is not a substitute for getting legal advice from an experienced solicitor. What’s more, unlike solicitors, McKenzie friends are not regulated. Usually, a McKenzie friend will not be insured. So if their advice is incorrect, there may not be much that you can do about it.
Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to McKenzie friends, including:
For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email email@example.com.
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