New ‘litigation friend’ guidance published

Family Law|November 10th 2014

The University of Manchester has published new guidelines which set out how to act as a ‘litigation friend’ in the Court of Protection.

The newly published guidelines cover topics such as who can be a litigation friend, a breakdown of what a litigation friend actually does during the proceedings, and an overview of the Court of Protection itself.

In legal cases involving someone who is unable to make decisions for themselves, as a result of illness or disability, that person may not be directly involved in the proceedings. In those circumstances, someone must speak on their behalf. This is their ‘litigation friend’.

This only occurs in cases before the Court of Protection. Children under the age of 16 who are involved in such proceedings may also require litigation friends to represent them.

These are not to be confused with ‘McKenzie friends’, who are informal courtroom advisers to litigants in person.

Guidelines author Alex Ruck Keene is a barrister and Honorary Research Lecturer at the University of Manchester. He said that their purpose was to “demystify the Court of Protection”.  He wanted to encourage more people to act as litigation friends and ensure “the better promotion and protection of the rights of those said to be lacking capacity to take their own decisions”.

To read the full guidelines, click here.

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