Last updated:2023-09-18
Court of Appeal blasts McKenzie friends
The term ‘McKenzie friend’ is not appropriate in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, Lady Justice Hallett has said, highlighting the problems caused by their increasing use.
Giving judgment in R v Conaghan and other appeals [2017] EWCA Crim 597, Hallett LJ said the increase in the number of applicants represented by ‘unqualified third parties’ has led to ‘totally unmeritorious applications’, that have ‘raised the hopes of an applicant, taken up a very considerable amount of time and resources of the court, and put an applicant at risk of a loss of time order’ (para 4).
She said: ‘Third parties have submitted applications on a litigant in person’s behalf where it has been unclear that they were acting in an applicant’s best interests and or with their full authority’ (para 4(i)).
Hallett LJ also complained that third parties have requested transcripts and other documents on behalf of a litigant in person and attempted to correspond with the office directly as if they were legal representatives, and advanced applications in which criticisms were made of trial lawyers, without consulting the trial lawyers.
She said the term ‘McKenzie friend’ was not suitable in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, preferring terms such as ‘applicant’s friend’ or ‘applicant’s helper’ (para 16(i)), and highlighted that the court will only allow a non-qualified third party to address the court in exceptional circumstances, to be decided on a case-by-case basis.