Mckenzie friend

A mckenzie friend refers to a layman who can sit with a 'litigant in person' to help him conduct the case.

If a layman chooses to represent himself in civil proceedings he is allowed to have the assistance of a 'McKenzie friend'.  This is the name given to a layman who can sit with a 'litigant in person' to help him.  He can advise, take notes and prompt questions but he can not address the court. He is able to assist but not represent the litigant, he can help conduct the case but can not conduct it for him.

The name comes from the divorce case McKenzie v McKenzie (1970) where  the husband represented himself. A young non-qualified barrister arrived to sit beside him and offer advice. The judge advised the barrister that he could not take part in the case and so he left the court.  The husband lost the case and appealed, his appeal was upheld and the court cited with approval the statement of Lord Tenterden CJ in Collier v Hicks (1831) that: 'Any person, whether he be a professional man or not, may attend as a friend of either party, may take notes, may quietly make suggestions, and give advice … '.

If a party does wish to rely on a McKenzie Friend they should notify the judge from the outset of the hearing. Permission is not normally refused unless the  judge believes that allowing the McKenzie Friend would interfere with the administration of justice.

The Civil Courts and other forms of dispute resolution - arcade games quiz

 

What are McKenzie friends and why are they appearing in more courtrooms?  Richard Owen

 Director Essex Law Clinic, School of Law, University of Essex

 

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