Does the Patients Association put itself at the disposal of laypersons who want to make some cash from conducting surgery on ill people who can’t afford to go private?

We think not.

Yet the Legal Services Consumer Panel is providing space and encouragement to commercial McKenzie friends – hitherto unqualified, untrained and unregulated legal advisers who owe no professional duty to the court or client.

How does this square with the panel’s avowed mission to represent the interests of users of legal services? Why isn’t the panel lobbying for the public to have the right of representation by qualified lawyers, with all the protections that entails?

In ‘Austerity Britain’, alas, that ship has sailed.

‘The cost and administrative burden of regulation could drive McKenzie friends from the market, or put their prices out of reach of a client base which uses them mainly for affordability reasons,’ the panel has explained.

Translation: if you can’t afford a proper lawyer – whose fees reflect these additional protections – it is acceptable that you be exposed to a lesser (or non-existent) duty of care, because some ‘representation’ has got to be better than none.

This is an argument of sorts and one perfectly in tune with the times: the degree to which you have proper access to justice is dependent on your means.