Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Potential Risk to Consumers Grows as Use of Unregulated McKenzie Friends Increases - brief version

In April 2014, the Legal Services Consumer Panel published a report about fee-charging McKenzie Friends. The use of McKenzie Friends is said to have greatly increased, particularly (but not exclusively) in the family courts. This is mainly attributed to the enormous increase in litigants in person as vast swathes of law are cut from the scope of legal aid.

McKenzie Friends are unregulated, typically not legally educated or qualified, rarely insured, and therefore may pose a risk to the vulnerable clients they work with.

There is clearly some evidence of struck-off lawyers working as McKenzie Friends. Solicitors have to be guilty of serious misconduct to be struck off, and as such are hardly suitable for providing advice and legal services to often stressed and intimidated clients.

Yet the McKenzie Friend industry has no regulation or requirements, anyone can call themselves a McKenzie Friend and purport to give legal advice. Would the Government be willing to accept unqualified, unregulated individuals posing as doctors, dentists or structural engineers? The clients of such unqualified professionals will be truly fortunate to leave relatively unscathed, but when things go wrong, the effects can be absolutely devastating. It is the same in law. 

For the full blog post, click here


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