What is a McKenzie Friend?

Request help if you have a Court Appearance pending.

What is a McKenzie Friend?

Postby Veronica » Fri May 22, 2009 8:39 pm

A Mckenzie Friend is a privilege that you can request if you need to make a Court appearance.

It is someone who can sit next to you and advise you. The person cannot address the Court ... you would have to do that yourself, but your McKenzie Friend could quietly offer you advice. And provides a lot of psychological comfort!

The idea of this Forum is to enable you to post a request for help, if you have a Court appearance pending.

Obviously you must state the address of the Court, so that anyone answering you knows they live in the surrounding area. (Don't just scream "Help" ... who knows whereabouts you live? The UK is quite a big place!)

Hopefully some Member of this Forum will pick up on your request. That's the idea.

Remember you will have to make the request as the first thing you do. If you have claimed Common Law jurisdiction, and the Court has steamrollered on, ignoring the Law, and that they have no jurisdiction over you, then they are unlikely to allow a McKenzie Friend request. Consequently whoever goes with you is more than likely to actually have to sit in the Public Gallery and take notes.
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Re: What is a McKenzie Friend?

Postby fmotl69 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:50 pm

Just a couple of questions.
If you claimed common law jurisdiction, would the McKenzie friend not be able to stand with you, as proceedings are on your terms?
If they are to sit in the public gallery...... how would they be able to advise/communicate throughout proceedings?

Thats all,
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Re: What is a McKenzie Friend?

Postby Oshun » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:28 am

Hey everyone - having first hand experience of the corporate criminals of Snottingham Magistrates' Court deny a man his MacFriend, here's a post that contains some excellent information with regard to this :
As some of you may know, I've had occasion to act as a McKenzie Friend, hereinafter "MF". Last Friday I was denied access tot he court building, and when I was, I was unable to act as the litigant's MF. I'm given to understand that another MF was denied access to the court on Thursday.

It is my view that had the litigant I was supporting been allowed to have a MF present during the proceedings he would have been less unlikely to be done for contempt.

I think we should drop the term 'McKenzie Friend' as it is unhelpful. The term 'McKenzie Friend' has no legal standing and a MF has no right to be in the court room. If a litigant enters court with a MF it is at the Magistrates'/Judge's discretion.

However, a litigant has the right to have whatever legal assistance he deems necessary.

Article 6 European Convention on Human Rights

"3 Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: ......

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require; "

Case Studies

Collier vs Hicks (1831)
"Any person, whether he be a professional man or not, may attend as a friend of either party, may take notes, may quietly make suggestions, and give advice."
Lord Tenderten CJ, in Collier vs Hicks

McKenzie v McKenzie [1970] 3 WLR 472

This is the case where the term MF comes from. It's a divorce case in which the husband was denied a legal assistant while representing himself. The judge said the MF could not take part in the proceedings. The court of appeal ruled: "Mr Hanger (the MF) was not there to take part in the proceedings in any sort of way. He was merely there to prompt and to make suggestions to the husband..." (Lord Justice Davies, p474G).

All three judges concluded that the MF should have been allowed to remain in order to: "sit quietly beside the husband and give him from time to time some quiet advice or prompting." (Lord Justice Sachs, p477H)

R v Leicester City Justices[1991] 3 WLR 368

"[The applicants] have a right to be heard in their own defence. Fairness, which is fundamental to all court proceedings, dictates that they shall be given all reasonable facilities for exercising this right and, in case of doubt, they should be given the benefit of that doubt for courts must not only act fairly, but be seen to act fairly."
(Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR, at page 376A)

"A party to proceedings has a right to present his own case and in so doing to arm himself with such assistance as he thinks appropriate, subject to the right of the court to intervene."
(Lord Donaldson, 379A)

"In my opinion there are in general no grounds for objecting to a litigant in person being accompanied by an assistant, who will sit beside him, take notes and advise sotto voce on the conduct of his case."
(Staughton LJ, page 380E-F)

"The title "McKenzie friend" suggests a status and a mystique which are not justified. In my view it would be better not used in the future, and that the person should be referred to simply as an assistant or a friend. I also consider that there should be no need, in the ordinary way, for an application to be made to the court for a litigant in person to have an assistant. It should be sufficient for the litigant (or his opponent) merely to introduce the person by name, and say that he present as an assistant."
(Staughton LJ, page 381H-382A)


It seems clear to me that those of us who act as assistants should refer to ourselves as such. Those attending as litigants should become familiar with the above quotes. The cases where a judge could deny the litigant an assistant are if security is an issue, or if the MF is disorderly or disrupting the court.

If a judge argues that the MF is disrupting the court, the litigant needs to be clear that the assistant is not driving the alleged disruption but the litigant is. It is not the MF who is questioning the court and challenging its authority but the litigant. The litigant needs to let the court know that he requires the presence of his assistant and that he cannot proceed without them. The above information should be enough ammo if the issue needs to be forced.

The MF must not be referred to as a 'representative', under any circumstances whatsoever. The litigant represents themselves at all times, the MF merely assists.



Source: http://thinkfree.org.uk/forum/index.php?topic=413.0

More to follow? For sure.

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