In February 2016, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales published a consultation on reforming the courts’ approach to McKenzie Friends, and the possible reform and replacement of the current Practice Guidance with, for instance, rules of court or updated Practice Guidance. It also raised the issue of how any such rules or Guidance should approach the issue of fee-charging, or ‘professional McKenzie Friends’.
Since that time, the issues in relation to McKenzie Friends has not abated and there are mounting concerns about the vulnerability of parents who are at the mercy of unqualified people with no right to redress.
The Law Society Gazette published an article on 9 October 2018 outlining how parents breached a court order by taking their child into Ireland in defiance of an interim care order claiming they were acting on advice from a McKenzie friend.
Last month, Sam Elliott, a barrister from One Pump Court, tweeted that a McKenzie friend opponent in the family court was selling standard court forms for £2.99 and charging £75 an hour for 'legal advice' videos that were ‘negligent, plain wrong and breach confidentiality’.
Earlier this year, family lawyer and blogger Lucy Reed said she had been contacted by someone who had spent more than £7,000 on a McKenzie friend at £65 an hour.