The term ‘McKenzie Friend‘ has been adopted in family law to describe an individual who provides assistance to a litigant in person (somebody not represented by either a solicitor or barrister).
McKenzie v. McKenzie was a divorce case in England. Levine McKenzie, who was petitioning for divorce, had been legally aided but the legal aid had been withdrawn prior to the case going to court. Unable to fund legal representation, McKenzie had broken off contact from his solicitors, Geoffrey Gordon & Co. However, one day before the hearing, Geoffrey Gordon & Co. sent the case to an Australian barrister in London, Ian Hanger, whose qualifications in law in Australia did not allow him to practise as a barrister in London. Hanger hoped to sit with his client to prompt him, take notes, and suggest questions in cross-examination, thereby providing what quiet assistance he could from the bar table to a man representing himself. The trial judge ordered Hanger that he must not take any active part in the case except to advise McKenzie during adjournments and must sit in the public gallery of the court. Hanger assumed his limited role was futile, and did not return for the second day of the trial.
The case went against McKenzie, who then appealed to the Court of Appeal on the basis that he had been denied representation. On 12 June 1970, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Judge’s intervention had deprived McKenzie of assistance to which he was entitled, and ordered a retrial.
In London’s Civil Appeal Court, top Judge, Lord Justice Ward said:
“The father complains bitterly, passionately, and with every justification, that the law is sterile, impotent and utterly useless.”
- Councillor Joan Kirkbride.
- Marriage Act of 1961 under Commonwealth Law.
- Read ‘UK secret family courts and the NOT so expert witnesses‘.
- Wrongful acts in Social Work Malpractice.