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Uncertainty persists around fee-charging McKenzie Friends

27 February 2019

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The Judicial Executive Board (JEB) has called on the government to decide on the legitimacy of fee-earning Mckenzie Friends, following its three-year consultation on possible reforms to the arrangements for litigants in person.

The consultation responses were considered by the JEB, then Lord Chief Justice, John Thomas and the Judicial Working Party.

In a 31-page consultation response published this month, the JEB called for a non-judicial body to produce a ‘plain language’ guide for litigants in person.

It was also noted that current practice guidance on McKenzie Friends had not been updated since it was issued in 2010.

The JEB launched its consultation in February 2016 on the premise that England and Wales should ban McKenzie Friends from charging fees in the same was as Scotland had done.

This month the JEB’s response said it remained “deeply concerned about the proliferation of McKenzie Friends who in effect provide professional services for reward when they are unqualified, unregulated, uninsured and not subject to the same professional obligations and duties” as lawyers.

However, it also acknowledged that the proliferation “has coincided with the period following the enactment of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012”.

It concluded “the growth in reliance on McKenzie Friends, and particularly fee-charging ones, should be considered in the context of the impact of those changes.

“It is for the government to consider appropriate steps to be taken to enable LiPs to secure effective access to legal assistance, legal advice and, where necessary, representation”.

The consultation received 156 responses from individual members of the public, 30 from McKenzie Friends and five from academics. It also received 15 responses from individuals in judicial roles, 15 from lawyers and 20 from legal, McKenzie Friend or regulatory bodies.

The consultation response has now been referred to Lord Chancellor David Gauke (pictured).

The response can be read in full here: Reforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends 

Picture credit: Chris McAndrew

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McKenzie friends David Gauke