UK judiciary persecute popular, alternative low cost legal service providers

UK judiciary persecute popular, alternative low cost legal service providers

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - GREATER LONDON, England - Apr 12, 2016 - Unhappy with the popular, emerging competition from the alternative low cost legal adviser (the Mckenzie Friend), the Judiciary (and their colleagues, composed of Solicitors and Barristers, whose popularity and use is in steady decline)  now plan to outlaw all non-lawyer, low cost legal advisers, from the family courts

In February 2016, the UK Judiciary (made up of Solicitors and Barristers) quietly published a Consultation paper on reforming their approach to ‘McKenzie Friends’ (the established description for non-Solicitor, independent legal service providers).  The Judiciary proposes to outlaw all non-Solicitor helpers at court for unrepresented parties, whether that help is low cost or just expenses-based.

The Judicial Consultation ends in May 2016.

What is a ‘Litigant in Person’, aka ‘LIP’? This is the term used to describe a party who cannot afford to pay for, or, on principal, chooses not to use the services of a Solicitor or barrister, ie an ‘unrepresented’ party.

What is a ‘Mckenzie Friend, aka ‘MF”? This is someone, with or without a legal background – who may be very adept and a very experienced specialist in their particular area of law – who can provide free or low cost legal advice and services and court help to anyone who cannot afford to pay a Solicitor or Barrister. Some are part time, some are full time. Some may only ever be an MF on one or two occasions.

Judical Consultation Report and Proposals:
https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/m…

The 2016 Consultation Report and the UK Judiciary in context.

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary released this statement on 25 February 2016:
https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/announcements/mckenzie-frien…

and this Consultation report and proposals for reform:
https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/consultation-reforming-the-courts-approach-to-mckenzie-friends/

Who are the UK Judiciary:

Who is the ‘Lord Chief Justice’, and what is his role?

He is Sir John Thomas, who commands an annual salary and benefits well in excess of £240,000 plus a substantial pension, and his role is summarised here:

Who are the ‘Judicial Executive Board’, and what is their role?

All are very eminent and wealthy individuals, and are the most highly paid members of the judiciary. There is no doubt that they could easily afford expensive Court fees and some of the most expensive Solicitors and Barristers in the land. That is, if they had to pay at all!

I support equal rights under the law for litigants in person and their advisers, for these reasons:

REPRESENTATION IN UK EMPLOYMENT DISPUTES

The Employment Tribunals Act 1998 s6 provides that a person may appear in person or else be represented at an employment tribunal by: (a) counsel or a solicitor, (b) a rep of a trade union or an employers’ association, or (c) any other person in whom the party desires to represent him.

In Astles v AG Stanley Ltd, 14 October 1996, unreported, the claimant failed to attend the hearing but his representative did. The EAT held that in such a case the tribunal had no right to refuse to hear the evidence.

In Bache v Essex County Council (2000) IRLR 251, the Court of Appeal held that an employment tribunal has no power to prevent a representative chosen by a party from acting on behalf of that party.

Similarly, in Despatch Management Services (UK) Ltd v Douglas 2002 IRLR 389, the claimants in an unfair dismissal claim were represented by solicitors who had previously acted for the employer in relation to certain business matters;, the employer sought an order that the claimants should obtain different representation, on the ground of conflict of interest. However, the EAT held that an employment tribunal does not have the power to interfere with a party’s choice of representation and so cannot dismiss party’s representative from the case and require them to obtain different representation.

REPRESENTATION IN UK FAMILY LAW/MATRIMONIAL DISPUTES

Bearing in mind that the above rights for claimants/applicants and respondents/defendants are enshrined in law, there is no defensible, logical, practical, substantial, ethical or moral reason why family law disputes should be the sole preserve of Solicitors and Barristers. But, it is in the UK, and that is unjust, unfair and inhumane.

Indeed employment law is far more technical, complex and dynamic than family law. Furthermore, it cannot be argued that parties, whether with or without Solicitors and Barristers, experiencing employment disputes are any more or less emotional and vulnerable than in family law disputes.

History of the declining family law Solicitor:

For more than 30 years, those of us (known as Litigants in Person) who cannot afford to pay expensive Solicitors or Barristers fees have either had to go to the library to legal information and attend court alone, or call on the services of legal advisers and court helpers, historically referred to a McKenzie Friends (MFs).

During the last 15 years, as Solicitors’ and Barristers’ hourly rates sky-rocketed and the quality of their services declined, with registered complaints against them reaching as many as 250,000 a year, public dissatisfaction with them reached its pinnacle 10 years ago.

Unhappy with their lot and with the popular, emerging competition – the MF – Solicitors, Barristers and the judiciary (composed of the same) this year came up with their Consultation, which aims to dispose of the MF altogether, or make it a servant of the court, rather than to put their own Solilcitors and MoJ houses in order, the most obvious element in their demise, of which is their cost.

Do not underestimate the modern professional McKenzie Friend

MFs are often the route through which their LIP clients find affordable barristers, as the MF understands how to source the appropriate type of expert, how to use their Direct Access websites, and how to negotiate prices on behalf of and for the benefit of their clients. The MFs role in this market should not be underestimated, because, but for the MF many LIP private clients would not use the Direct Access Barrister services.

The role of the MF should not be underestimated at all. But for MFs, marketing and promoting Direct Access Barristers and the new style of family law  Arbitration services (who are not at all marketing and PR savvy), the fledgling Arbitration services will not flourish, either. Promote and partner yourselves with MFs and see your business and Arbitration client list grow.

Conclusion:

Rather than banning and controlling them, there should be legislation passed in favour of non-Solicitor, alternative legal service providers assisting unrepresented parties at family court for free or for a fee, in line with rights afforded in employment tribunals to unrepresented parties and their assistants.

There are no research findings at all that professional McKenzie Friends generally cause damage and harm to the cases of unrepresented parties. There are two reported instances where individuals calling themselves McKenzie Friends have been banned from helping in court because of their bad behaviour and rudeness. On the other hand, in the last 10 years, there were up to 250,000 complaints per year registered against Solicitors.

So, if you agree that if you couldn’t afford a Solicitor or Barrister to represent you in court, but wanted and needed specialist legal help and advice, that you should not be discriminated against – you should have the unfettered right to choose any other person or business to help you with your case, inside and outside of court, then please copy and paste this pledge and send it to the email address below.  Thank you.

mckenzie.friends@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk

I pledge my support for all non-Solicitor, independent, low cost legal service providers, to retain the right to help unrepresented clients in Court.  #Equalityincourt

Name:          Address:

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Thank you for reading.

Source : Family Law Clinic Ltd
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