Family law court proceedings tends to be a stressful experience, even if you have a regulated UK family law lawyer or solicitor. Not everyone has the financial resources to hire legal counsel. More often the only option is to represent yourself in court.
If you find yourself as a Litigant in Person, it is imperative to have someone who can support and encourage you in the process. It makes a big difference to have someone who already knows the court process. Luckily, there is now an alternative to family law solicitors in the form of a ‘McKenzie Friend’. It is a term that is yet to be commonly known. Unless you have been through divorce proceedings or considered a different option to the regular high street family solicitor, it is very unlikely you have encountered this kind of divorce service. McKenzie friend law normally offers a more affordable law support service. Family law UK solicitors are legally qualified and regulated. McKenzie friend London are normally not. They may not always be equipped with the same legal qualifications, although they can be just as familiar with both the law and the court system and therefore provide invaluable assistance and guidance for Litigants in Person.
It is your legal right to have support in court if you can not afford the standard family law UK solicitor.
In principle there are different types of McKenzie Friends ranging from family members or friends to voluntary helpers representing a specific charity and professional fee charging McKenzie Friends. They are all entitled to provide you with alternative support to a legal counsel. McKenzie Friend law are all allowed to provide moral support, note taking and help with case papers including giving quiet advice whilst you are in court. However, they can not speak in court such as addressing the judge or the other party. Neither can they liaise with the other parties’ solicitor or sign court documents. On rare occasions a McKenzie friend law may be permitted to speak, if the judge allows it. In some cases where the Litigant In Person is particularly anxious or nervous, the judge may allow for ‘right of audience’. More information about what McKenzie Friends can do
McKenzie Friend Law is not normally regulated, and activities are not usually controlled. In theory, anyone can become a McKenzie Friend. This means that if anything goes wrong or you do not receive the support you needed, you are not protected in the same way as had you used a regulated firm. However, if they are part of the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends, there are a certain code they must follow along with having indemnity insurance. At least it provides some protection should they fail to meet certain standards set out by the code of standards. Some McKenzie friend law are also regulated by CILEx Regulation and must follow the CILEx Code accordingly.
To ensure you find the right McKenzie Friend London it is good to have individual terms and conditions explained before you instruct this specific service. A trusted McKenzie Friend should be able to set out typical behavior and way of working before you agree to any service being carried out. Make sure fees are correctly established and understood as rates of McKenzie Friend Law vary according to experience or any legal qualifications obtained.
To find the right McKenzie Friend London for you, most of us have an online presence in form of a website. My top tip is that you select a few and see which key messages and ethos relates to your specific case and outlook. It is important that you ‘like’ your McKenzie Friend and that you can have open channels of communication. After all, they are likely to become a trusted friend and your emotional ‘shelter’ in the process. Recommendations from friends and family is always a good reference. You can also search for directories which enlists self-regulated McKenzie Friends. In any case, you do not need to feel alone. Find that suitable Mckenzie Friend that can help you find a better way. At CourtTogether we pride ourselves on giving a service that leaves no stones unturned. Speak to us today so we can help you find the best solution for your case.