Courtroom advisors known as McKenzie Friends should be subject to a code of conduct if they wish to charge fees, a society has claimed.
McKenzie Friends act as unqualified courtroom advisors to people lacking full legal representation, most frequently with family law cases. Many charge fees for their services.
In November 2014, the then newly established Society of Professional McKenzie Friends announced a set of professional standards for its members, including professional indemnity insurance, and a legal qualification equivalent to an A level or higher. The code was based on recommendations issued by the Judiciary in 2011.
The Society has now claimed that these standards should apply to all fee-charging McKenzie Friends, not just to members of the Society.
Speaking to the Law Society Gazette, Chair Ray Barry said:
“Many courts now require McKenzie friends to complete a form prior to a hearing. That form could ask whether the McKenzie friend is fee-charging or not. If yes, the McKenzie friend should be expected to be familiar with and required to comply with the code.”
Non-charging friends could simply be advised that they may not address the court during proceedings, he continued.