The managing director of a professional McKenzie friend service has predicted “severe detriment” to the family law system if fee-charging friends continue to increase in numbers.
John Junk of Family Court Support said fee-charging McKenzie Friends (FCMF) were in the midst of an “inexorable rise”.
“The junior branch of the legal order knows that they must stop lay advocates and FCMFs instructing barristers directly, or their family law business will fall further, as FMCFs organise into companies, access CPD courses and take on professional indemnity insurance. This may eventually lead to FCMFs being accepted by legal services to offer legal aid in family law cases.”
He described this as a “nightmare scenario”.
“… the family law sector [would] eventually be dominated by organised and self-regulated FCMFs and counsel only.”
“I predicted almost ten years ago that FCMFs would eventually come in from the cold and become part of the established legal order, though it seems that FCMFs will eventually sit below solicitors and above legal execs, not below legal execs as I originally prophesied.”
McKenzie friends provide informal legal advice to people pursuing a case without a solicitor or barrister. They do not require legal qualifications.