A law student has backtracked on his idea of allowing students to market their services as paid McKenzie friends through his online portal.
Fraser Matcham (pictured), a third-year undergraduate at the University of Westminster, said in a statement that under the site’s code of conduct ‘no active student’ would be able to use the portal to give advice.
Last week the Gazette exclusively revealed details of the online platform, called McKenzie Marketplace, which was apparently endorsed by BPP Law School and the University of Westminster.
It claimed to provide students with ‘paid in-court legal work experience’ and allow businesses, law students and individuals to connect with litigants under a ‘simple platform’.
Matcham previously told the Gazette that students would be able to charge up to £25 per hour and £100 per day for acting as McKenzie friends. However the Law Society strongly warned students against taking such work, saying a mistake could jeopardise their career before it had even begun.
Matcham insisted that student members of McKenzie Marketplace would still be able to 'assist with multiple other legal services' apart from advice. He added that the portal’s code of conduct requires all members to obtain insurance coverage covering the services they offer.
A McKenzie friend can provide support, guidance and advice to litigants with court proceedings, as well as draft documents and position statements, and – with the approval of a judge – speak on behalf of the litigant in court.
A consultation by HM Judiciary on the issue of paid McKenzie friends closed in June. It proposed a ban on fee-charging McKenzie friends, recommended that all McKenzie friends sign up to a code of conduct, and that rules governing the courts’ approach to McKenzie friends be legally codified. Despite repeated requests, the judiciary has yet to confirm a date for publishing a response.
Matcham added: ‘We operate an “open complaints policy” in which anyone may make a complaint. We will, of course, respect the decision made by the judiciary and will adapt as necessary.’