In England and Wales, a McKenzie Friend is a person who assists a litigant in person (someone who is representing themselves in court) during legal proceedings. McKenzie Friends are not lawyers, but they can provide moral support, take notes, help with case paperwork, and offer general legal advice.
McKenzie Friends provide informal support to individuals who are not represented by a solicitor or barrister. They can be friends, family members, or individuals with some legal knowledge who agree to assist the litigant in person. McKenzie Friends can offer assistance in various ways, such as helping you prepare your case, taking notes during the proceedings, and providing general legal information and advice. They cannot, however, address the court on your behalf or act as your legal representative.
As a litigant in person you will remain responsible for your case, including making decisions, presenting evidence, and following court procedures. However, you will have the benefit of guidance and assistance from a McKenzie Friend who can take you through all the difficult court procedures and help you to draft the necessary paperwork.
McKenzie Friends should adhere to a code of conduct that emphasises their role as assistants rather than advocates.
They must not engage in any activities that could be considered practicing law without a license.
Professional McKenzie Friends are not regulated by a specific body, and their qualifications and experience can vary. Therefore, it’s very important to carefully consider the credentials and expertise of a McKenzie Friend before engaging their services and to be aware of the limitations of their role in legal proceedings.
It’s important to note that the McKenzie Friends are very different to legal representation by qualified lawyers. While they can provide valuable assistance, their role is limited in comparison to that of a legal professional and the fees of a professional McKenzie Friend will therefore be significantly lower than that of a legal professional. If you can find a McKenzie Friend who has the right experience and credentials, this can be very useful for you in the right circumstances.
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