McKenzie Friends offer paid-for services mostly outside court

Research conducted by academics at the Universities of Cardiff and Bristol show that the vast majority of work done by paid McKenzie Friends is delivered outside the courtroom, rather than actively representing their clients in court.

The research found that most paid McKenzie Friends prefer to offer legal advice and personal support to clients before a case goes to court. Many then choose to pass the case on to a direct access barrister when the client needs the specialist assistance of a qualified lawyer. The research also found a preference for McKenzie Friends to suggest settling cases before they reached court.

Chair of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, said: “This new research paints a mixed picture of the kind of service litigants can expect from paid McKenzie Friends. It is particularly interesting that the courtroom – where the very concept of McKenzie Friends as ‘quiet supporters’ for a litigant was born – is not primarily where those who pay them are receiving their services today. In that sense, what we see in court represents the tip of the iceberg.”

Langdon also made the point that not all McKenzie Friends are paid: “The research is focused on McKenzie Friends who are making money from the service they sell to clients. It must be viewed against the wider backdrop of the good work the traditional McKenzie Friends, who do not charge for their services and act as a support to litigants in person in our courts, provide. This original concept of the McKenzie Friend is a helpful part of our justice system.”

The full report is available here.

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