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I find the jargon "McKenzie friend" irritating. I heard of McKenzie v McKenzie in 1973. It was a case in which a litigant in person in a family court had a friend helping. When the matter came to a hearing, which was to be in private, the friend was allowed to be in the courtroom with the litigant. Simple and uncontroversial. No problem here waiting to be solved.

I have done lots of work as a budget legal advisor who is neither a solicitor nor a barrister. I have never needed to cite McKenzie in order to be allowed in a courtroom that was otherwise in private session. Most of my work was done at home, on a computer. I've never, literally been a McKenzie friend. I've represented people in tribunals and helped them to represent themselves in court, but that accounts for only a tiny fraction of my time. Drafting pleadings, preparing bundles etc etc is the bulk of the work.

It's neither fair nor possible to make it illegal to seek advice about the law from a non-solicitor, or to pay or to charge for such advice. Provided a legal helper's time is not costed at a higher rate than that allowed for a litigant's own time if he is awared costs on a litigant in person basis, what is the problem?

There is always going to be a market for cheap legal advice and help other than from solicitors, who don't much like giving legal advice anyway in my experience. There are charities that offer legal advice, e.g. Citizen's Advice Bureau. There are television and radio programmes that offer legal advice, and government and private websites. too. Who cannot remember the Sales of Goods Act 1898, thanks to Esther Rantzen drumming it into us week after week on That's Life, until we got the shiny new Trades Description Act in its place.

The case in point is about somebody who took bad advice - and less qualified legal advice than they had access to at that - probably because they were paying to be told what they wanted to hear, becoming able to blame the idiot advisor if they got caught, as they did.

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