Assistance to litigants in person
1. Litigants may obtain reasonable assistance from a lay person, sometimes called a “McKenzie friend”. Litigants assisted by McKenzie Friends remain litigants in person. McKenzie Friends have no independent right to provide assistance. They have no right of audience, to act as advocates or to carry out the conduct of litigation. They have no entitlement to payment for their services.
2. In court McKenzie Friends may:-
(a) provide moral support for litigants;
(b) take notes;
(c) help with case papers, subject to paragraph 6 below;
(d) quietly give advice on any aspect of the conduct of the case.
3. McKenzie Friends may not:-
(a) address the court, make oral submissions or examine witnesses or otherwise conduct litigation. In exceptional circumstances a court may permit a McKenzie Friend to address the court. Such circumstances will be rare;
(b) receive any payment for their services;
(c) act as the litigants’ agent in relation to the proceedings;
(d) manage litigants’ cases outside court, for example, by signing court documents.
4. Whilst litigants may receive reasonable assistance from McKenzie Friends, the court retains the power to refuse to permit such assistance. The court may do so where it is satisfied that the interests of justice and fairness do not require the litigant to receive such assistance. Where the court permits a litigant to receive assistance from a McKenzie Friend, it may regulate the manner in which assistance is provided. It may withdraw the permission if of opinion that the administration of justice is being impeded by the McKenzie Friend. If requested by the court a McKenzie Friend must provide his or her name, address and contact details.
5. Only one McKenzie Friend may assist a litigant in court.
6. The attention of litigants and proposed McKenzie Friends is drawn to the provisions of section 58 of the Solicitors Act 1954 as amended, which makes it a criminal offence for an unqualified person, as defined in that Act, to draw or prepare a document relating, inter alia, to any legal proceeding either directly or indirectly for or in expectation of any fee, gain or reward.
7. This Practice Direction shall come into force on the 1st October, 2017.
Dated this 26th day of September 2017
President of the Circuit Court