Bar Council Chair rejects suggestion that McKenzie Friends should be paid

In response to a statement by the Legal Services Board that came out in support of the idea of paying McKenzie Friends for their work, the Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, has explained why unregulated, unqualified and uninsured individuals should not be paid for helping litigants in person.

McKenzie Friends are those who assist litigants in person in court; there is no requirement that they should be qualified.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries said: “The Bar Council and other legal professionals have consistently made the case that access to justice is integral to a democratic, civil society and it should come as no surprise that legal aid cuts excluded significant numbers of people from accessing legal advice or representation. 

“The solution to government legal aid cuts, however, is not to allow untrained, unregulated and uninsured McKenzie Friends to undertake reserved legal activities, such as rights of audience before the courts, and to charge for these services. 

“I disagree with the Legal Services Board’s statement that the case has not been made for an outright ban on fee charging McKenzie Friends. Some paid McKenzie Friends charge as much as £125 an hour. Many members of the junior Bar, for example, will charge around £90 an hour, and all have completed a minimum of five year's study, including 120 hours of advocacy training and a year of working under close supervision of a senior colleague, as well as being insured and regulated.

“Those who instruct a paid McKenzie Friend would be better off employing a junior barrister or solicitor. This is often more-cost effective and will always represent better value for money.”

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