Family Law Hub

McKenzie Friends: final response to consultation published

Judicial consultation process started in February 2016

  • The Judicial Executive Board (JEB) has published its final recommendations arising from a consultation on McKenzie Friends that started back in February 2016. That response sought views on what the role of McKenzie Friends should be and suggested some possible reforms. Following receipt of initial responses a Judicial Working Party considered the matter further before publishing this final response.  

    278 responses were received among them judges, individuals and representative bodies and the overall tenor is that respondents were: 

    • narrowly in favour of replacing the term 'McKenzie Friend';  
    • broadly against replacing the term 'McKenzie Friend' with that of 'court supporter' Respondents suggested a large number of alternative names to replace 'McKenzie Friend';  
    • in favour of replacing the present Practice Guidance with rules of court;  
    • broadly balanced in respect of the question whether to introduce a standard form notice;  
    • broadly supportive of the introduction of a Code of Conduct; 
    • strongly supportive of the creation of a plain language guide;  
    • overwhelmingly supportive of the view that a non-judicial body should produce a plain language guide; and  
    • in terms of numbers, overwhelmingly opposed to a prohibition on fee-recovery 

    In the light of these responses the JEB makes the following observations (in summary): 

    1. the growth of the use of McKenzie Friends particularly fee-charging ones coincided with the enactment of LASPO. Therefore the government should consider appropriate steps to enable LiPs to secure effective access to legal assistance, legal advice and, where necessary, representation.  
    2. they are deeply concerned about the proliferation of McKenzie Friends who in effect provide professional services for reward when they are unqualified, unregulated, uninsured and not subject to the same professional obligations and duties, both to their clients and the courts, as are professional lawyers.  
    3. all courts should apply the current law applicable to McKenzie Friends as established by Court of Appeal authority.  
    4. they support the view that a plain language guide could be produced by a non-judicial body for the assistance of LiPs.  
    5. the current Practice Guidance on McKenzie Friends has not been revised or updated since it was issued in 2010. it should now be updated and re-issued.  

    You can read the full response on the Judiciary website.

Published: 26/02/2019


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