You should be clear that a McKenzie Friend and a Litigation Friend are very different.

A Litigation Friend is someone who acts for and represents a child or a protected party (i.e., a vulnerable individual over the age of 16 who cannot make their own legal decisions, usually because they are seriously injured or ill, or lack mental capacity). They might be a parent or guardian, a family member, social worker or professional advocate like a solicitor. If you need a Litigation Friend, the court will determine this and appoint someone suitable.

A McKenzie Friend is another name for someone who helps a Litigant in Person (i.e., a person without a lawyer) when they go to court. They may be family members or friends, people from charities or volunteers, or on some occasions former lawyers who offer paid or unpaid services to help you through court proceedings. Unlike Litigation Friends, McKenzie Friends cannot act as your representative; they must not attempt to advocate on your behalf, talk to witnesses, or get involved in proceedings. You should be aware of this and do your research, as solicitors and barristers cannot act as a ‘McKenzie Friend’ in order to do advocacy when they are no longer allowed to practise. McKenzie Friends can take notes and offer advice on what is happening in court, and there is no reason why former solicitors and barristers cannot offer this service.

However, if you want legal advice or representation in court, you should always go to a regulated solicitors’ firm or barrister. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA), and barristers are regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

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