MCKENZIE FRIENDS: AN ABSURD DECISION
Chief Master Marsh gave guidance in relation to McKenzie Friends.
He stated that the starting point was to consider whether the applicant reasonably needed such assistance. If so the scope of that assistance should be determined and that required consideration of the applicant’s personal position, the context in which the application was made, the principles in the overriding objective and the guidance in Practice Notes: McKenzie Friends: Civil and Family Courts  1 WRL 1881.
Here the Master held that it was appropriate to appoint a McKenzie Friend and for him to have rights of advocacy, but that is “an exceptional course of action… only justified by exceptional circumstances”.
The Master said that the permission was not open-ended and could be withdrawn at any time if it was abused or if the McKenzie Friend sought to delay the conduct of the trial.
Here the claimant had difficulty in understanding written material, as well as the technical nature of the case and thus it was reasonable for him to call on assistance. The McKenzie Friend proposed to act free of charge and had already won a similar case when representing himself.
However the McKenzie Friend also had a number of unmet costs orders against him, including ones in favour of the defendant here.
An absurd decision that comes very close to saying that anyone who needs representation can chose anyone and does not need to have a lawyer.
This representative has ignored costs orders against him and thus can represent people in court but treat court orders that he does not like with impunity.
Such conduct by a solicitor would result in automatic suspension and subsequent striking off.
Here the Master was influenced by the fact that the McKenzie Friend had helped draft the proceedings etc. and that the claim “is in a reasonable shape” and that “my impression of Mr Moore from the three hearings when he has appeared in front of me is that he is capable of acting in a measured and helpful way.”
The logic of this is that if I illegally prescribe medication but it works, then having acted illegally, but reasonably successfully, as a non-qualified doctor I should be allowed to conduct major surgery. If anyone may now appear as an advocate in a full High Court trial, which this case will be, where the Master accepted that it involved an issue of “real public importance” then what is the point of being a barrister or a solicitor?
Why train? Why qualify? Why insure? Why obey court orders? Why obey the law?
So anyone can now appear in court and ignore court orders as they want.
There will be hearingless Briggs courts. I suppose that stops the problem of McKenzie Friends.