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What is a McKenzie Friend?

Mckenzie Friend

If you haven’t got the financial means to instruct a family solicitor, going through a divorce or dissolution alone can be incredibly overwhelming.

But there is alternative help available. You may want to call on the services of a McKenzie Friend as you act for yourself in your case as a Litigant in Person (LIP).

With Legal Aid for divorce or dissolution now very difficult to secure, many people find themselves acting alone as a Litigant in Person. Gaining support and advice from a McKenzie Friend can be a huge relief. There is a lot of advice out there, but what many people need when they are going through the emotions of a divorce is an actual person to lean-on. This is especially important for those who find their divorce or dissolution going to court.

Are you eligible for Legal Aid?

What can you do if you don’t have the financial resources for a Solicitor?

Litigants in Person represent themselves in court. They don’t have legal representation by way of a solicitor or barrister in court. The process is overwhelming enough, even WITH a barrister let alone without, and that’s where a McKenzie Friend can step-in. They can accompany a person to a court hearing and assist in taking notes and helping with documents. Just having someone to encourage and help in court can make all the difference.

Whilst a McKenzie Friend is not normally legally trained, they can ask the court to grant them a right of audience allowing them to address the judge and speak in court plus examine witnesses. There are strict rules in place, so this may not be allowed. However, they can usually make quiet suggestions to you in the courtroom, for example if you are cross-examining a witness. Also, Judges may also take the view that a McKenzie Friend might present the case better and with less disruption than an emotional and unprepared client.

Who are Mckenzie Friend’s?

Quite often, a McKenzie Friend is a person who has been through a tricky divorce or dissolution themselves. On successfully getting to grips and completing their own case they want to help others. They can sometimes turn out to be ex police officers or social workers who have worked with the law in some capacity.

Normally the judge will not allow them to get involved in the case directly, so they will be unable to address the court. However, they will offer a great support in a situation where you might otherwise be alone.

Some McKenzie friends work for free, but the majority work as professionals and as their full-time work, charging a fee. Even if it’s just to have someone by your side on the day of a hearing. Search McKenzie Friend in The Hug Directory

The courts are used to people acting Litigant in Person and Judges are aware of how stressful a court appearance is. If your spouse has a solicitor or barrister, they also have to make allowances for you representing yourself.

Will the Judge allow a McKenzie Friend into court?

A judge will not normally refuse permission unless it is believed that the McKenzie Friend would interfere with the case, in ways such as constantly interrupting proceedings. Sometimes, on entering the courtroom, the judge will make it clear what the McKenzie Friend can and cannot do.

It is worth bearing in mind, that like solicitors, there are better and worse McKenzie Friends.

McKenzie Friends are also unregulated and usually not insured. They do not profess to be legal experts. Having a McKenzie Friend is all about support and being able to discuss the options with someone and making your own informed decision. Even with a solicitor, you will be asked to give your further instructions. Everything is ultimately always your decision so you have to gain as much knowledge as you can.

If you would like to explore option of getting a McKenzie Friend take a look in The Hug Directory.

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