McKenzie Friends

The Court of Appeal 
The High Court

Re. McKenzie Friends

1. Litigants may obtain reasonable assistance from a lay person, sometimes called a McKenzie friend (MF). Litigants assisted by MFs remain litigants in person. MFs have no independent right to provide assistance. They have no right to act as advocates or to carry out the conduct of litigation. They have no entitlement to payment for their services.

2. In court MFs may:-

(1) Provide moral support for litigants;

(2) Take notes;

(3) Help with case papers, subject to paragraph 6 below:

(4) Quietly give advice on any aspect of the conduct of the case.

3.  MFs may not:-

(1) Address the court, make oral submissions or examine witnesses. MFs do not have a right of audience or a right to conduct litigation. In exceptional circumstances a court may permit an MF to address the court. Such circumstances will be rare.

(2) Receive any payment for their services.

(3) Act as the litigants’ agent in relation to the proceedings;

(4) Manage litigants’ cases outside court, for example, by signing court documents.

4. Whilst litigants may receive reasonable assistance from MFs the court retains the power to refuse to permit such assistance. The court may do so where it is satisfied that the interests of justice and fairness do not require the litigant to receive such assistance. Where the court permits a litigant to receive assistance from a MF, it may regulate the manner in which assistance is provided. It may withdraw the permission if of opinion that the administration of justice is being impeded by the MF. If requested by the court a MF must provide his or her name, address and contact details.

5. Only one MF may assist a litigant in court.

6. The attention of litigants and proposed MFs is drawn to the provisions of section 58 of the Solicitors Act 1954 as amended which makes it a criminal offence for an unqualified person, as defined in the Act, to draw or prepare a document relating, inter alia, to any legal proceeding either directly or indirectly for or in expectation of any fee, gain or reward.

7. This Practice Direction shall come into force on 1st October, 2017.

Dated 31 July, 2017

Sean Ryan
President of the Court of Appeal

Peter Kelly
President of the High Court

High court