Bar Council supports proposals to ban paid McKenzie Friends

25 February 2016

LAWERS SHOULD BE LEGALLY QUALIFIED

PROPOSALS TO BAN PAID MCKENZIE FRIENDS: BAR COUNCIL RESPONSE

The Bar Council has responded to today's proposals from the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary that would prohibit the remuneration of McKenzie Friends.

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:"McKenzie friends are unregulated, uninsured and mostly unqualified, and the Bar Council agrees that they should not be allowed to charge people for legal services.

"One of the impacts of LASPO is that hundreds of thousands of people who previously qualified for legal aid are no longer eligible, and for many people this means they must represent themselves in court.  Appearing as a litigant in person is often daunting and challenging, and having support from a friend or colleague acting voluntarily as a McKenzie Friend can be an important source of support.

"An unfortunate consequence of legal aid cuts is that paid McKenzie Friends, who are not regulated or insured and are rarely legally qualified, have been charging up to £90 an hour to represent people in court. We have already seen one McKenzie friend banned from court for intimidating witnesses and legal representatives, and another jailed for defrauding his clients.

"Unlike McKenzie Friends, barristers and solicitors are regulated and owe a duty to the court and in this way they serve the interests of justice and the public interest. The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary is right in that allowing paid McKenzie Friends to continue implicitly condones the creation of a new branch of the legal profession, albeit one which is unregulated.

"Those who instruct a paid McKenzie Friend would be better off employing a junior barrister or solicitor. This is often more cost effective and will always represent better value for money. Barristers and solicitors are qualified, regulated and insured, but McKenzie Friends tick none of these boxes."

The Bar Council welcomes the proposals from the Judicial Executive Board, published today, and looks forward to responding to the consultation in full.

Ends

Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board