24 May 2019
Mckenzie friends are an interesting facet of the legal system. Finding genesis in the case of Mckenzie v Mckeznie (1970) Mr Mckenzie wished for a young Australian barrister to assist by sitting behind him in court. At the time the ruling was heralded as a triumph for personal freedoms. At the time this was quite sensible, a legal practitioner who had an appreciation of the nuance and solemnity of the law was assisting an individual who otherwise could not access the justice system
There was a theory for a time that this was to be restricted to the familial courts. There is no default right of audience at hearings or trials for Mackenzie friends. However a worrying trend has continued to grow over the last half decade, Mckenzie friends are being granted the right to represent others.
The theory behind this seems relatively solid, much like the case of McKenzie it is to allow those who do not have access to quality legal service to have support from others. The problem is McKenzie friends are no longer guaranteed to have an appreciation of the law. By and large McKenzie friends are untrained unqualified individuals attempting to grapple with abstract law.
As a general warning we have recently had a development in this field, the case of Wright v Troy reemphasised the need to appoint qualified practitioners as opposed to relying on unregulated providers of legal services. The McKenzie friend in that case was described as “positively harmful” and resulted in significant losses to the Claimant.
In this case Mr Wright was permanently injured at a Hospital. The Claimant settled for £20,000.00 however was advised by a McKenzie friend to hold out for a seven figure settlement, this was unrealistic in this case. Ultimately Mr Wright (the Claimant) had to pay costs in the region of £75,000 to the hospital. This left Mr Wright out of pocket for £55,000.00 as a result of a McKenzie friend’s advice. Bearing in mind the individual in this case referred to himself as “an experienced legal professional” this should serve as a stark warning to those hoping to engage the services of unregulated individuals.
With unregulated providers of legal services it is not possible to obtain an objective barometer of quality. In fact it is not possible to establish whether they are suitably trained or even qualified to deal with your case. As in the case of Troy v Wright, this could lead to shambolic results.
This underlines the importance of using a regulated and authorised solicitors firm. Without a doubt a consumer of legal services should undertake its own due diligence to ensure the values and qualities of a firm marry with the assistance required. However there is no substitution for the peace of mind.
A regulated firm is required to train its employees to a reasonable level of competence so they can practice in the area they profess expertise.
A regulated firm will always be insured just in case any concerns arise during a case.
Here at Curtis Law Solicitors we are proud to be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and boast a wide array of experienced and accredited solicitors. This stretches right from our directors to our senior solicitors. Areas of accreditation include conveyancing, personal injury and clinical negligence. You can rest assured when instructing us, you will be provided the highest quality of advice.