McKenzie Friends should be renamed ‘supporters’ and banned from collecting fees, the Law Society and Bar Council have both claimed.
The term actually originates in a 1970 divorce, in which an Australian barrister living in London attempted to provide informal advice to a man divorcing his wife who had been refused legal aid. The barrister was not qualified to practice in the English courts. When the trial judge ordered him not to take an active part in the hearing, the barrister did not return for the second day of the hearing. The husband, Levine McKenzie, lost his case but then successfully appealed, arguing that he had been denied representation.
In their official response, the Law Society and Bar Council also claim there should be no formal code of practice for McKenzie Friends because this could imply they are at least partially regulated . A code might discourage the friends and family of litigants from becoming McKenzie Friends, they believe, when doing so might be appropriate.
Their stance on fees contrasts with that taken by the Legal Services Board, which recently claimed there was no justification for such a prohibition.
The consultation was launched by the Judicial Executive Board , a panel of senior judges who assist the Lord Chief Justice.
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Courtroom image by Michael D Beckwith via Flickr