Guidebook

 

Introduction

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace has put together this guidebook with the assistance of barristers, solicitors, judges and academics for those trading, or intending on trading, as McKenzie friends. This guidebook provides information on how McKenzie Friends were established in the legal system in England and Wales, what McKenzie friends can and cannot do, recommendations which traders should strongly consider when acting as McKenzie friends, benefits of hiring a McKenzie friend and regulations and requirements surrounding McKenzie friends. It also aims to provide information concerning the McKenzie Friends Marketplace and the work we do to rejuvenate and reform the role and regulation of fee-charging McKenzie Friends.

By reading this guidebook, we hope that you will be able to identify the appropriate steps that you should take in order to ensure that you can act as a McKenzie Friend with efficiency and effectiveness. This guide aims to provide basic and essential information as well as useful and helpful recommendations and guidance to become an effective member of the McKenzie Friends Marketplace, McKenzie Friend and to create an affordable, accessible and fairer justice system.

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The Key to Accessible, Affordable and Fairer Justice

History

Since the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of McKenzie v McKenzie [1971] a litigant-in-person has the right to have reasonable support and assistance from a person who is without legal qualifications and training; commonly known as laypersons.

Laypersons that assist litigants-in-person are commonly referred to as McKenzie Friends due to the founding case of McKenzie v McKenzie. McKenzie Friends traditionally were a litigant’s friend or family member who would assist with the litigant’s case. Over time this has developed as volunteers, law students, charities and solicitors, some of which now charge a fee for their services, act as McKenzie Friends.

Those that charge litigants-in-person for their assistance are now referred to as fee-charging McKenzie Friends. This role has been gaining considerable momentum in recent years due to legal aid cuts reducing funding specifically to certain areas of law, such as family, debt, welfare and housing and the increasing cost of court applications. This has resulted in litigants-in-person on low-incomes being unable to pay for legal representation. However, the majority of litigants require assistance during or throughout their case and so seek the assistance of fee-charging McKenzie Friends as they are more affordable with an average cost of £15-89 per hour and a typical day rate of £150-£200.

The benefit to having the assistance of a McKenzie Friend is the sense of support and guidance during a time which is usually very emotional and complex. The legal system is not built for litigants-in-person, and so court processes which litigants must follow can be difficult and confusing. Throughout the last decade, the demand for McKenzie Friends has grown due to legal aid cuts, increasing court and legal fees as well as everyday living expenses being on the increase. Litigants-in-person have benefited and will continue to benefit exponentially through the affordable form of court and case support which McKenzie Friends can provide.

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace aims to increase awareness of McKenzie Friends to litigants-in-person and educate traders on conduct, client care, professionalism and court etiquette to ensure McKenzie Friends are competent, compliant and capable.

We hope to provide a McKenzie Friend to every litigant-in-person to ensure accessibility to fair, efficient and effective support with an outcome of accessible, affordable and fairer justice.

What can McKenzie Friends do?

McKenzie Friends came into existence so that a litigant-in-person can obtain reasonable assistance during and throughout civil and family court proceedings. Although McKenzie Friends are unable to act as advocates or carry out litigation, they can still provide a huge amount of support in which enables a litigant-in-person to build a stronger and more understandable case before a judge.

McKenzie Friends can sometimes support litigants in person in a variety of ways this includes providing moral support, taking notes of what is going on during the court hearings, helping with the litigants’ case documentation and organisation, whilst also providing legal or practical advice to a litigant-in-person.

McKenzie Friends can stand before the court and speak on behalf of a litigant-in-person; however, a McKenzie Friend has no legal right to address the court without a judges’ approval. It must be noted that should a McKenzie Friend mislead the court concerning his/her legal right to address the court and be without the necessary qualifications s/he would be committing a criminal offence under the Legal Services Act 2007 section 17.

What can McKenzie Friends not do?

McKenzie Friends cannot act as an agent on a litigants’ behalf in relation to proceedings, outside of court, a McKenzie Friend is not allowed to manage cases or sign any documentation concerning anything to do with the case, including the proceedings.

A McKenzie Friend does not have the automatic right to address the court concerning any proceedings which s/he may deal with; this includes making oral and written submissions and questioning witnesses. McKenzie Friends, also cannot assist both parties in the same case or one of either party in another separate case due to a conflict of interest that would arise. McKenzie Friends must then ensure they only accept a client if they have made the appropriate checks to ensure not conflict of interest is present.

At all times McKenzie Friends, must not discuss any clients, their cases or any specific information in relation to their work and are to maintain confidentiality before, during and after any work is conducted as a McKenzie Friend. 

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace is a new, modern and innovative platform that connects litigants-in-person with McKenzie Friends. This platform acts as a voice, quasi-regulator and body to represent and promote McKenzie Friends, whilst also protecting litigants themselves and raising awareness of McKenzie Friends and the crucial services they can provide to improve access to justice in England and Wales.

The platform itself provides clear and transparent information concerning McKenzie Friends; including a guidebook on the history behind their establishment in the English legal system, as well as the regulations and requirements surrounding McKenzie Friends. In addition to this guidebook, we also provide a range of other documents in order to make as much information as possible accessible and to maintain a standard. This includes a Code of Conduct, McKenzie Friends Notice, Creating a Trading Account and Being a Customer documents, all provided to our members and the wider public for free. These documents were created by the McKenzie Friends Marketplace with the collaboration of academics, judges, barristers, solicitors and our supporting organisations.

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace also provides a secure and encrypted messaging system for its members and litigants-in-person to utilise for confidentiality purposes, requiring no contact details to be communicated between the parties. Our members also have a fee cap in place on their hourly and daily rates varying depending on the trading account; a business trading account will be capped at £90.00 per hour and £300.00 per day; student trading accounts will be capped at £25.00 per hour and £100.00 per day. This is the maximum in which our trading members can charge litigants for their services, not including any package options.

As part of our Code of Conduct all our trading members have insurance and provide a copy of their certificate on their marketplace profiles so litigants can be sure they are covered should something go wrong. We also have a reviewing system on our website which allows litigants that hire McKenzie Friends to give a star-based review publicly available to our users, allowing litigants to make an informed decision.

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace takes complaints and breaches of its Code of Conduct seriously. In order for our code of conduct to be effective and enforced, we operate an open complaints policy concerning any trading member of our website. This means that should counsel, judges or members of the public witness or experience behaviour or actions which fall below our set requirements or expectations we will review and take action on any provided information. A complaint can be made via our ‘Contact Us’ page provided on the McKenzie Friends Marketplace website. We aim to be the leading body which regulates and maintains fee-charging McKenzie Friends in England and Wales, with the help and support from our supporting organisations.

Recommendations

Acting as a McKenzie Friend is a supportive role, and it is recommended that McKenzie Friends do not take on or assist in multiple cases at the same time. This is to the benefit of both parties as litigants-in-person usually require one-to-one support and assistance and working with two or more litigants would be a detriment to this role.

Whilst assisting a McKenzie Friend at court it is strongly recommended that you do not remove or take control of any documentation in relation, or that could be in relation, to the proceedings. McKenzie Friends are required to keep all information and communication confidential both during and after proceedings and should have procedures in place to dispose of any documents securely when no longer needed.

We recommend that McKenzie Friends make clear, before becoming a McKenzie Friend, to any litigant-in-person they will be supporting whether they have obtained sufficient insurance and provide the litigant with a CV including any experience in which would be beneficial to a litigant-in-person.

McKenzie Friends must ensure that they have filled in and submitted any and all paperwork required by the courts before, during or after they assist/support litigants with proceedings. A McKenzie Friend will be required to submit documentation which identifies an individual as a McKenzie Friend so that the court and judge can be certain of your identity. Should a McKenzie Friend fail to provide such paperwork or documentation, a judge may decide that you should not or cannot provide assistance and will not be allowed to act as a McKenzie Friend.

All McKenzie Friends trading through the McKenzie Friends Marketplace are responsible for registering with HM Revenue and Customs, and they are to ensure that all the required and relevant information is provided to any other relevant body in accordance with the laws of England and Wales.

Benefits of McKenzie Friends

Legal aid cuts have, and continue to, impacted certain areas of law such as family, debt, welfare and housing and as a result, McKenzie Friends are needed now more than ever. A never-ending increase of living costs on the public is a key factor to litigants struggling or being unable to afford legal representation such as a Barrister or Solicitor. A McKenzie Friend can provide the support litigants-in-person need during and throughout the course of proceedings at a more affordable rate. 

It is very common now for those that can afford legal advice, but not court representation, to obtain a McKenzie Friend for court hearings. McKenzie Friends have a low hourly rate and can provide support and guidance in combination with any legal advice or paperwork provided by a solicitor or barrister.

McKenzie Friend’s can be extremely beneficial to litigants-in-person due to the supportive role and assistance they can provide. Should a litigant-in-person be presented with an expected court date and be unable to obtain legal representation they can have access to an affordable McKenzie Friend in which will be able to assist with organising paperwork and guiding a litigant through the legal processes.  

A McKenzie Friends role is to provide support and advice but leaves you with the ultimate final decision and control. This allows a litigant-in-person to decide on how his/her case is going to be approached and s/he is going to present it.

The judiciary has also seen the benefits of having a competent and educated McKenzie Friend present. Litigants-In-Person usually has not been to court, and so they are not aware of the processes and procedures, as well as court etiquette. If a litigant-in-person has not obtained legal representation or a McKenzie Friend, it can result in delays on the court, commonly due to missing paperwork or lack of evidence. Judges can be placed into a difficult position when a litigant-in-person has no support or representation, especially in circumstances where the other party is represented by a solicitor or barrister. This creates an imbalance between both parties in being able to adequately advocate their case, all of which the judge will consider when coming to a decision. 

Regulations

McKenzie Friends including those that are fee-charging are not necessarily regulated by any particular body or professional conduct authority. However, McKenzie Friends are required to keep all information and communication confidential during and after all proceedings. McKenzie Friends who are qualified legal professionals such as a barrister or solicitor can be subject to their regulatory body concerning the assistance they provide as a McKenzie Friend.

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace has its own Code of Conduct in which sets out basic and essential requirements in order to become and remain a member. Should a report be made of a member acting outside of, or in breach of this code, McKenzie Friends Marketplace reserves the right to remove said member at any time without warning. Should a report be made with serious implications concerning a litigants’ case or amount to an offence, it shall be reported to the relevant authorities in order for a full enquiry and investigation to be conducted.

All reports will be considered and investigated provided that they are credible and clearly communicated to the McKenzie Friend Marketplace. You do not have to be a member or user of the marketplace to make a complaint or report a breach. We seek the assistance of the public, legal professionals and the judiciary to ensure and maintain our standard by reporting to us any concerning or potential breaches of our Code of Conduct by any trading member. 

Requirements of a McKenzie Friend

It is required that McKenzie Friends obtain adequate insurance to cover themselves when acting as a McKenzie Friend and those they assist. McKenzie Friends are liable to be sued in both contract and tort by their clients if they, but not limited to, breach terms of their contract or act negligently in the provision of their services.

McKenzie Friends are required to act professionally when providing support to litigants and during court proceedings, McKenzie Friends must follow the instructions of the courts and ensure that they remain within the legal boundaries of their position.

Since McKenzie Friends are privy to confidential information in most cases, it is required that all information and communication in which concerns or may concern a litigants’ case be kept confidential at all times both during proceedings and after completion of a McKenzie Friends assistance. As a McKenzie Friend, you must ensure that your communications with your client are kept confidential and secure, you should take all reasonable steps to ensure that the method of communication and storage of communications is reliable, safe and protected. McKenzie Friends must adhere to any requirements arising out of the Data Protection Act. It should be noted that the McKenzie Friends Marketplace provides all its members with a secure messaging system within its website and that it is recommended that this is the only electronic form of communication. 

Creating a Trading Account

At the McKenzie Friends Marketplace, we offer two trading accounts on our modern platform; these two accounts are comprised of a business account and a student account. Individuals and businesses that provide McKenzie Friend services are invited to create an account and become a member. By taking a look at the below information on registering an account you can be the key to unlocking accessible, affordable and fairer justice.

Additionally, we provide law students with the opportunity to create a student trading account. This is open to final-year LLB Law students or equivalent; GDL graduates; Law graduates; BPTC and LPC postgraduates. For these students, we hope to provide an exciting and exclusive experience outside the traditional law firm and chambers opportunities. It’s not only an opportunity to obtain in-court experience but to discover and gain skills firms and chambers desire, such as client care skills and business management.

Business Trading Account

A business trading account can be created by going to the ‘Sign Up’ link on our website – www.mckenziemarketplace.co.uk - and selecting the business option. A registration page specifically tailored to those operating both small and large legal services businesses will present itself. The registration form will need to be completed as fully as possible in order to make it through our review process, key documentation that will need to be provided is a copy of photographic ID, proof of address in the last three months, a valid insurance certificate and a current photo of yourself.

After completing the registration form, you will then enter the review process, where your application will be checked and approved. You will then receive an email confirming your new membership with the McKenzie Friends Marketplace. This will give you access to the business account and dashboard. You can then begin to create your own ‘Ad’ to go live on our marketplace. Under the “Marketplace Ad” page, provided under the drop down in the top right-hand corner, you will be presented with an editable page which will be displayed on the McKenzie Friends Marketplace. In order to obtain the best results, we recommend filling in this ‘Ad’ as much as possible, to give potential clients as much information as possible to make an informed choice.

It is a mandatory requirement to provide a current photo of yourself in the corresponding section of the ‘Ad’ and to provide a scan/copy of the insurance certificate evidencing your professional indemnity insurance. You will also be able to customise a provided table for the work and services you are going to provide; this consists of hourly; daily and; package. The hourly and daily rates are capped at £90.00ph and £300.00pd for business accounts; there is no cap on package options.

Package options can be comprised of multiple services for litigants at one fixed cost to make it easier and more economical for litigants to get everything they need for their upcoming court hearing.

Student Trading Account

A student trading account can be created by going onto the ‘Sign Up’ link on our website – www.mckenziemarketplace.co.uk - and selecting the student option. A customised registration page will present itself which will need to be completed as fully as possible in order to make it through our review process. Key documentation that will need to be provided is a copy of photographic ID, proof of home address in the last three months, a valid insurance certificate, proof of university degree or attendance and a current photo of yourself.

After completing the registration form you will enter the review process, and your application will be checked and approved. You will then receive an email confirming your new membership with the McKenzie Friends Marketplace. This will give you access to the student account and dashboard. You can then begin to create your own ‘Ad’ to go live on the McKenzie Friends Marketplace. Under the “Marketplace Ad” page, provided under the drop down in the top right-hand corner, you will be presented with an editable page which will be displayed on the McKenzie Friends Marketplace. In order to obtain the best results, we recommend completing this ‘Ad’ as fully as possible to give potential clients as much information as possible to make an informed choice.

It is a mandatory requirement to provide a current photo of yourself in the corresponding section of the ‘Ad’ and provide a scan/copy of the insurance certificate evidencing your professional indemnity insurance. You will also be able to customise a provided table for the work and services you are going to provide; this consists of three area: hourly; daily; and package. The hourly and daily rates are capped for students at £25.00ph and £100.00pd; there is no capped rate on package options.

Package options can be comprised of multiple services for litigants at one fixed cost to make it easier and more economical for litigants to get everything they need in order for their upcoming court hearing.

Complaints Procedure

Introduction

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace’s success stems from its trading members, and so we endeavour to ensure a sufficient and professional standard is established and maintained. We do this by providing a Guidebook, Code of Conduct and Training in order to put our McKenzie Friends in the best possible position to provide their essential services. 

‘Open Complaints’ Policy 

It is recognised that this system will only be effective if the wider public and members of the legal profession are easily able to communicate with us should a breach or failure of our policies occur. This is why the McKenzie Friends Marketplace operates an ‘open reporting policy’, meaning anybody can make a complaint regarding a trading member of our marketplace. Should you be a customer, legal professional or witness to a conduct breach we ask that you get in touch with our customer service department via the ‘Contact Us’ page in order for your complaint to be processed. 

Eligibility of a complaint 

There are three requirements for a complaint to be eligible for review, these are: the complainant can be identified, the complaint is about a transaction with a member through our platform, and it concerns a breach of our Code of Conduct, Terms and Conditions or policies. All three conditions are required in order for a complaint to be acknowledged as a legitimate complaint in need of immediate review. Evidence may be requested in order to verify each condition.   

Potential Outcomes of a complaint 

When a complaint is made senior management will make a decision as to what action should be taken, below are some examples of what requirements, conditions and actions may be imposed on the McKenzie Friend. 

1.     Suspension of account

2.     Termination of account

3.     Evidence of new or updated practices, policies or/and procedures

4.     Issue of a full refund

5.     Issue of apology and correction of mistake

Claims of negligence 

It is a requirement that all of our members be insured with professional indemnity insurance to cover the services they provide through our platform. It is for this reason that, should a potential negligence claim arise you should contact the members' insurance providers. Should a negligence claim be successful, a complaint can be submitted for review should it fulfil the conditions as set out under the ‘Eligibility of a complaint’ paragraph above.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

As professional indemnity insurance is a requirement under our Code of Conduct, the McKenzie Friends Marketplace has partnered up with Legal Ex Plus and W/R/B Underwriting to provide you with clearer information and affordable premiums exclusively for McKenzie Friends that wish to join our marketplace. 

Introduction to Legal Ex Plus

Legal Ex Plus provides professional indemnity Insurance exclusively for business within the Legal Services environment.  They have been providing a friendly and professional service for over 11 years, with specific emphasis on building long-term business relationships with their professional clients. 

Legal Ex's expertise in this niche field means they can provide bespoke and competitive premiums to clients from an extensive range of insurers.

Introduction to WRB

W/R/B Underwriting is a trading name of W. R. Berkley UK Limited and W. R. Berkley Syndicate Management Limited. We, W.R. Berkley UK Limited, are a service company that is part of the W.R. Berkley Corporation group of companies, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in their capacity as an appointed representative of W.R. Berkley Syndicate Management Limited. Lloyds A+ Rating. 

Cancellation Terms

The McKenzie Friends Marketplace provides the below cancellation terms should a McKenzie Friend fail to provide cancellation terms to its clients. These terms will be enforced should a McKenzie Friend trading member fail to resolve a dispute concerning a cancellation of accepted services. We require that all clients attempt to contact the relevant trading member to request a refund and that our trading members act in accordance with the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

•    All McKenzie Friend trading members and clients will have the right to withdraw from an accepted transaction up to 24-hours before the agreed start date. This will result in a full refund to the client and no code of conduct enforcement.

•    If a McKenzie Friend trading member or client cancels an accepted transaction within 24-hours of the agreed start date the client will be entitled to a full refund and has the right to make a complaint in accordance with our complaints procedure.

•    If a client’s court hearing or case is postponed, adjourned or otherwise moved outside the agreed start date or time the client will not be entitled to a full refund unless they provide 24-hour’s notice to the trading member, or the trading member does not provide the services paid for.

•    It is to be noted that if a McKenzie Friend is present, but is unable to speak on a client’s behalf due to a postponement, adjournment or where a hearing is otherwise moved outside the agreed start date or time will not constitute ‘not providing services paid for’.

The terms set out in this guidebook will only be relevant and implemented should the contracted McKenzie Friend fail to provide the necessary cancellation terms in relation to an accepted transaction. These terms do not affect your statutory rights.

McKenzie Friends Notice

Previously, it was recommended that should a litigant wish to have a McKenzie Friend accompany them in a hearing, that a notice is given to the judge notifying him/her in advance that a McKenzie Friend would be in attendance. It is for this reason that the McKenzie Friends Marketplace created its own McKenzie Friend Notice (accessible on the downloadable version), this notice is available should a McKenzie Friend or litigant wish to provide notice to their judge that they wish to have a McKenzie Friend with them.

We highly recommend that all litigants aim to complete and provide this notice to the courts before entering at their scheduled hearing. This notice expedites the process a judge would take when determining whether a McKenzie Friend can act or speak on a litigants’ behalf. It does this by providing the necessary information for a judge to determine whether the McKenzie Friend will be of any benefit or competence in providing assistance.

Contact Information

Address: McKenzie Marketplace Ltd, 152-160 Kemp House, City Road, London, EC1V 2NX

Phone: 02036934467

Email:

customerservice@mckenziemarketplace.co.uk
memberapplications@mckenziemarketplace.co.uk
press@mckenziemarketplace.co.uk
legal@mckenziemarketplace.co.uk

Website: http://www.mckenziemarketplace.co.uk

Facebook: @mckenziemarketplace

Twitter: @mckenziemarket1

LinkedIn: McKenzie Friends Marketplace

Companies No: 10351194

Useful Links

For information on the McKenzie Friends Marketplace:

http://www.mckenziemarketplace.co.uk

For information on registering with HM Revenue and Customs:

https://www.gov.uk/working-for-yourself

For information on registering with the Information Commissioners' Office: 

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/register/

For information on McKenzie Friends:

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/JCO/Documents/Guidance/mckenzie-friends-practice-guidance-july-2010.pdf

For more information on BPP Law School:

http://www.bpp.com/bpp-university/about/schools/law

For more information on the University of Westminster: 

https://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-us/faculties/law

For more information on our insurance broker:

http://legalexplus.com

For more information on our insurer:

https://wrbunderwriting.com

 

 

Disclaimer: The information in this Guidebook is to be relied on at your own liability risk, all information is subject to our policies and terms and conditions of our website. The McKenzie Marketplace Ltd retains no liability for the actions, decisions, or otherwise arising out of the information provided.