Q. I am involved in Family Law proceedings and cannot afford a lawyer, can I take someone into Court with me to help?
A. Usually only the parties involved in a case, or their legal representatives, will be allowed into Court in Family proceedings. If you wish to take a partner, a friend, or family member into a Court hearing with you, you would require the consent of every other party in the case and/or the permission of the Judge, or Magistrates, hearing the case.
There is however something called a “McKenzie Friend” which is where a lay-person accompanies you into Court hearings. They must be someone who has no legal interest in the case and must not be someone who may be called upon as a witness in the case. It is ultimately up to the Judge, or Magistrates, hearing the case whether or not you may take a “McKenzie Friend” into a Court hearing.
A “McKenzie Friend” may provide moral support, take notes, help with case papers and quietly give you advice on any aspect of the conduct of your case. They may not, however, address the Court (ie. Speak to the Judge or Magistrates hearing the case), make oral submissions, or ask questions of witnesses.
Chris Brown, solicitor
*This article was previously published in the Stamford Mercury