Your recent front page item on McKenzie friends pre-dated the helpful joint Law Society/Bar Council/CILEx advice by a few weeks. It is a subject that has been discussed by the Birmingham Law Society Council twice this year.
McKenzie friends have been given great impetus by many who sit in a judicial capacity. They give the impression of preferring this to litigants being unrepresented, even though many McKenzie friends have no legal qualifications, are uninsured and have no regulatory/supervisory body.
It is a scandal that litigants who are frequently very vulnerable can be persuaded to part with large sums of money for such a service.
Any lawyer faced with a litigant in person and McKenzie friend should read the advice to clarify where the boundaries lie.
Lawyers should also be prepared to adapt by offering advice to clients for certain parts of their case. This can reduce their costs, although care needs to be taken to avoid ‘going on the court record’ unintentionally.
Steven Jonas, partner, criminal department, Jonas Roy Bloom, Birmingham