How did McKenzie Friends come about?

McKenzie Friends were established from the case of McKenzie v McKenzie [1971] in a family matter which sought the assistance of the Court of Appeal in clarifying the right to reasonable assistance. This case confirmed that should a McKenzie Friend be of benefit to a litigant-in-person he or she should be allowed to provide assistance. There are also certain circumstances where the Ministry of Justice has explicitly stated when a McKenzie Friend can be utilised, such as a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) (Practice Direction 12B 14.5). 

Since the late 1970s professionals, law graduates, charities and individuals have provided their services in return for remuneration establishing the Fee-charging McKenzie Friend, which has grown in popularity and is now a common feature in court proceedings.

What is a McKenzie Friend?

A McKenzie Friend is an individual that can, with your permission, assist you during and throughout civil and family court proceedings. This individual does not have to be legally qualified in order to assist you; however, a McKenzie Friends right to address a court is discretionary. A McKenzie Friend can be of great benefit to litigants-in-person by providing emotional, practical and procedural support during an otherwise difficult and complex process. For more information on how McKenzie Friends operate, please take a look at our McKenzie Friends Guidebook.

What can McKenzie Friends not do?

Although McKenzie Friends can assist a litigant with an abundance of tasks, McKenzie Friends must not speak on behalf of the litigant, unless such advocacy rights have been explicitly granted by the judge. A McKenzie Friend should not act as the litigants’ agent, for example, signing court documents, examining witnesses or manage litigants’ cases outside court. 

Find the nearest McKenzie Friend to you

Our McKenzie Friend Finder allows anyone that visits our website to find out how many McKenzie Friends there are, nearest to your location. Go to our McKenzie Friend Finder page to find out more.