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McKenzie Friend

The UK is undergoing a revolution in how legal advice is provided. After decades of de-regulation which has resulted in many areas of law that were covered by solicitors, supposed improvements have allowed many who are not specifically qualified as lawyers to provide advice and assistance. Add in the ever-more restrictive legal aid scheme and it's no surprise that some people turn to non-lawyers for help. Enter the dangerous world of the "professional McKenzie Friend."

...Continued from yesterday

A McKenzie Friend cannot be the representative of record that is he cannot provide a "firm" or an address for service. He cannot be the agent of a litigant in person and so he cannot e.g. issue proceedings on his behalf. He does not have a right of audience, that means he cannot address the court directly, unless, in exceptional cases, the court might grant, on a one-off basis, a right to address the court and to examine witnesses. However, more McKenzie Friends are making applications for rights of audience and are being granted.

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It's not so long ago that advocates in any court had to be legally qualified. There was a fall-back position for those who were unable to afford their own solicitor or barrister and were, for one reason or another, going to find it difficult to present their own case. The reasons were, for example, that they were not sufficiently literate, or that they were disadvantaged by poor, or no, English or that they were of an exceptionally nervous disposition. But things have gone badly wrong.

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