Are you the litigant, a MacKenzie Friend, or an unemployed Solicitor?
They are multiplying like rabbits; private companies – ‘The Society of Professional McKenzie Friends Ltd‘ offer a directory of ‘self regulated’ MacKenzie Friends – are springing up to help spread their mobile phone numbers around to the desperate.
They claim that a Solicitor can charge from £200 per hour and from £500-£600 (plus VAT!) for a day in court – whereas for £350 they will accompany you to court, encourage litigants to separate emotion from the facts, facilitate cooperation with court processes and other parties, help with case papers and ‘so on’.
Trust me; for £350 a day I will go to court with you, hold your hand, tell you where the toilets are, when to stand and when to sit, and even point out to you that that screaming hysterically ‘It was till you shagged my Mother’ when your partner claims you used to have a happy marriage is not likely to further your cause with the Judge. On a wet day I might even do it for £250.
What I won’t do is give you legal advice, since I am neither a registered Solicitor nor a Barrister, so I’m not indemnified to give you advice. If you are happy to save £150 and ditch the legal advice when you find yourself in court, then I’m your man, or woman….For God’s sake, if you can find £350, then borrow the other £150 and get a legal ‘car’ with all four wheels.
I am not against the idea of MacKenzie Friends altogether. The original altruistic idea was for, literally, a friend, to be allowed to sit in the court with you, much as they might do in a Doctor’s consulting room, and prompt you to remember all the things you wanted to say but can’t remember in the heat of the moment. Someone who has done it before and isn’t overawed by the process.
I am sure that Mark Neary was suitably grateful for the help and assistance of Sam Smith, a law student at the time, who supported him through the gruelling process of getting his son released from an unlawful detention.
However, the six children of Bishop Gloria Musa and her husband Joseph who had to be taken into care because of the abuse dealt out to them by their parents:
The Nigerian couple, who claimed their kids were possessed by evil spirits, beat them with brooms, hoovers and wires and even gave their baby a morphine overdose just days after her first birthday.
might be less impressed with the Mackenzie Friends outfit who supported the parents through court with wild allegations of corrupt courts, child snatching and other memes of the conspiriloons.
Would little Luna Black thank the Mackenzie Friends who organised the escape from justice of her Mother – ‘Britain’s most prolific female paedophile’.
At a cottage deep in the French countryside, a baby girl kicks her feet in the air and smiles at her father, Joe, as she is cuddled by her mother, Marie.
Luna is now safely away from her Mother’s care – Marie Black is serving a lengthy jail sentence.
It was Mackenzie friends who organised the flight from British justice for a Mother and her teenage son who suffered from, and was receiving help for, severe mental health difficulties. Mother had other plans for the son – and cared not that her son required specialist treatment.
Unfortunately, when you have people advising in emotive circusmtances who have not been taught to view matters objectively, you will acquire bad apples who have a personal agenda that they seek to impose on the vulnerable.
That they are being paid as well and have slick websites that offer their services in many different languages gives a veneer of respectability to their services. You don’t have to understand the language sufficiently to complete a law degree, nor to take bar exams – Mackenzie training takes an onerous three whole days. Then you just set up shop as a Mckenzie Friend, speaking the language of your chosen client, and caring nought for whether your advice has any value.
I listened in horror one day, to a video of a client and a Mackenzie Friend. The client asked whether it was true that the British Government carried out forced adoptions ‘for money’ and inquired whether he was being held for medical treatment ‘for money’. The response was not the reassurance you might expect for a sick and delusional man – but ‘ah well, the judges get well paid, and the legal counsel, so do the social workers and all the mental health workers. They all get money for what they are doing to you, that’s the way British justice works’. His statement was factually correct, all those people do get paid, but it was also manipulatively crafted to feed into the fears of a vulnerable man.
That paid ‘Mackenzie Friends’ are slowly gaining ‘rights of audience’ in our court rooms, only makes matters worse. One, the Hon ‘Lord’ Grayson, describes himself as ‘Senior Partner’ and gives helpful advice as to how to address him…
You call them simply, “My Lord”. However there are deviants to this such as, “Your Lordship”, “His Lordship” etc. You are supposed to do this until the titled person invites you to call them by there (sic!!!) first name. You shouldn’t at any time call them “Mr.” (Nor point out that they don’t know the difference between there and their).
Law books and pink tape on your briefs always look so good, don’t you think?
He claims to hold the qualifications of:
A.Ist.Pa, Dip.DAS, MSFTR
I did try to untangle their meaning, but found myself bogged down in a Portuguese field of manure. No really. See if you can do any better.
Lord Grayson will be studying to become a licensed paralegal. After this he will go on training to eventually become a fully qualified solicitor and may convert his degree into becoming a barrister.
Now that surprised me – if being a Mckenzie Friend is so much better and cheaper for your clients, why would you want to turn yourself into one of those expensive fuddy duddy solicitors or barristers?
‘Lord’ Grayson may do his best to look like a barrister or solicitor:
“I always wear pin-stripes or a black suit to court… I have a proper solicitor’s briefcase… Everything looks good when we arrive and I think that’s very important.”
As well he might – he says he earns around £100,000 a year.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel noted that McKenzie friends have been around for 50 years. Traditionally unpaid volunteers, they help litigants in person by providing moral support, taking notes, helping with case papers and giving advice.
What is the point of remaining qualified when you can hand your practising certificate in, rid yourself of office rent/staff and all the other overheads including personal indemnity insurance, escape all the regulations and earn £50-£100k pa?