Help! I’m a litigant in person. What can a McKenzie Friend to help me?

As a litigant in person you run your own case. The court and the other party’s legal professional is obliged to advise you (the guidelines are here) when it comes to procedure but but not on the law. Ask them for legal advice and you will be told you need to seek legal advice elsewhere.

Many people aren’t aware of McKenzie Friends. When they learn of our existence we are often asked the same questions – which can help them decide if we are the right people to assist them or not. A general guide on what we do is here.

It’s also worth reading Practice Guidance on McKenzie Friends.

Please read through these questions and get in touch if there is anything else you would like to know.

Litigant in person - going it alone?

Can you give me free advice?

Yes. Click here to book us for a free consulation. During an initial chat we will be able to give you an overview of how you should best manage the situation you in, what we can do to help and what the likely outcome in court will be. After this consulation you will be better placed to make a judgement about what you wish to do going forward.

Why should I use you – you’re not solicitors or barristers are you?

It is understandable to believe a `legal professional’ would be best placed to ensure the right outcome. It’s natural to think an experienced and qualified professional will be better than any McKenzie Friend. It may be worth remembering that in the legal profession, like any other, there is good and bad. Our assistance has shown a good McKenzie is as good – sometimes better – than someone who likely be charging you in excess of £200 per hour.

Are you basically the same as a solicitor or barrister?

No. Although our background and experience is often comparable to many solicitors and barristers we are not the same. As McKenzie Friends there are restrictions to what we can do.  We cannot speak on your behalf in court – but we can give you advise and answer your questions. We cannot `conduct litigation’ – but we can advise you of your options and the likely outcome of any decision you make. We cannot act as your agent – but we can help you with letters and paperwork.

How can I possibly represent myself in court?

We appreciate it can appear daunting! Most people have images of American courtroom dramas in their head – or bewigged barristers and judges peering scornfully over their glasses from a raised lectern and using language they don’t understand. It is not like that. In an age where increasingly people choose to represent themselves court staff understand the concerns and worries litigants in person  have. In fact, the court and it’s officers have a duty to advise and explain the procedure of a hearing or court case.

With someone from our team besides you we will `fill in the gaps’ for you. We will tell you when it may be advisable to speak, what is going on and how your response may be framed. Most people are more than capable of running their own case with a little assistance from a McKenzie Friend.

Can you run my case for me?

No. It is your case and McKenzie Friends cannot “conduct litigation”. This means we cannot deal directly with another party’s solicitor or barrister in correspondence. You will have to do this although we can (and do) give you advice on how to deal with and your case to a favourable outcome.

Will you take on any case?

No. This is because we do not specialise in every area of law and will advise you if your case will be better pursued with the assistance someone else. We specialise in Family Law – Divorce, Financial and Child Matters. We also have some background in TLATA, Property and Contract Law.

What do you charge?

Please visit our fees page for more details

Can you just help me with filling in forms/correspondence/paperwork/something else?

Yes. We are happy to help you in whatever way suits you, doing as much or as little as you like. If you are not sure ask us – advising people is our job.

We would advise you however that if you are intending to act as a litigant in person you do not attend court alone – very few people can listen and respond to what is going on during a hearing whilst taking notes. It can also be hard to stay impartial in a potentially stressful situation. This is on top of being in an infamiliar environment with language you may not fully understand.

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