McKenzie Friends

There has been rapid reform in the Family Court over the last few years and a number of cost cutting measures, which has resulted in more and more people representing themselves in court proceedings. The terminology for such parties is a litigant-in-person (LIPs). Given that many court users cannot afford to have legal representation during proceedings, there has also been a sharp rise in the use of McKenzie Friends

A McKenzie Friend is usually a professional who can offer assistance and in some cases seek to appear as advocates in court proceedings. However a McKenzie Friend is not usually a qualified solicitor or barrister in England and Wales. The term McKenzie Friend stems from a divorce case in the 1970s in which an Australian barrister, without rights of audience in the courts of England & Wales, sought to represent a party.

A McKenzie Friend is not allowed to represent the party during court proceedings unless the court’s permission has been sought and the correct application make. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Court consider granting a McKenzie Friend “rights of audience” in court proceedings.

There has also been extensive discussion over whether McKenzie Friends should be charging for their services and if so, how much. There has been a noted increase in the number of McKenzie Friends, commonly known as ‘Professional McKenzie Friends’, who provide their services to LIPs on a fee-paid basis. However, McKenzie Friends are not regulated by one body, compared to solicitors who must adhere to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and its Code of Conduct.

For anyone who is either already involved in court proceedings or is considering issuing proceedings in the Family court, Barker Gotelee are able to offer a initial consultation to discuss your case and your needs.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Suffolk.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email