McKenzie v McKenzie: CA 10 Jul 1970

Mr McKenzie was a litigant in person who wished to be assisted by a young Australian barrister, gratuitously, in the conduct of his case by sitting beside the husband in Court and prompting him. The hearing was in open Court . The friend’s conduct attracted the attention of the Judge who intimated that he should desist whereupon the barrister left the Court. The Judge dismissed the husband’s petition but granted the wife a decree nisi.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The Judge had acted in error. Every party had the right to have a friend present in court beside him/her to assist by prompting, taking notes and quietly giving advice. By reason of the Judge’s intervention the husband had been deprived of that right and, therefore, there had been an irregularity in the proceedings. The court approved the use of an unpaid unqualified friend to a litigant to assist him in presenting his case when acting in person in a defended divorce case. Such a friend would not be able address the court except with the express allowance by the court of an ad hoc right of audience.


Davies LJ, Sachs LJ, Karminski LJ


[1971] P 33, [1970] 3 WLR 472, CAT 679/1991


CitedCollier v Hicks 7-Jun-1831
Trespass for assaulting, and turning plaintiff out of a police office. Plea, that two of the defendants, being justices of the peace, were assembled in a police office to adjudicate upon an information against AB for an offence against a penal . .

Cited by:

ExplainedRegina v Bow County Court, Ex Parte Pelling CA 17-Dec-1999
Access to the court given to a McKenzie Friend should normally be given in matters in open court, but when it came to matters being heard in chambers, the judge had discretion as to who he would hear. The right is in any event that of the litigant, . .
CitedNoueiri v Paragon Finance Plc (Practice Note) CA 19-Sep-2001
Courts should be careful before allowing unqualified persons to represent other parties at court. Pleadings and similar documents must be signed by the party or their qualified legal representative. Others signing them may be in contempt of court . .
CitedO and others (Children); In re O (Children), In re W-R (a Child), In re W (Children) CA 22-Jun-2005
In each case litigants in person had sought to be allowed to have the assistance and services of a Mackenzie friend in children cases. In one case, the court had not allowed confidential documents to be disclosed to the friend.
Held: The . .
CitedRegina v Leicester City Justices, ex parte Barrow CA 1-Aug-1991
The appellant challenged a community charge liability order in which justices had refused an application made on his behalf for a friend to be allowed to sit with him to give advice and assistance. He sought judicial review. The Divisional Court had . .
CitedMensah v Islington Council and Another CA 1-Dec-2000
Permission was sought for a McKenzie friend to address the court. Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘In accordance with the overriding objective of the CPR and to avoid the waste of today’s hearing, attended as this court had earlier directed, by counsel for . .
CitedParagon Finance Plc v Noueiri CA 4-Jul-2001
. .
CitedIzzo v Philip Ross and Co (a Firm) ChD 31-Jul-2001
Whilst litigants in person should be allowed the assistance of a McKenzie friend, the duties of the friend should not normally include representation and advocacy. Nevertheless, each case should be viewed separately, and applications for permission . .
CitedRegina v Bow County Court Ex parte Pelling QBD 8-Mar-1999
Mr Pelling sought to act as a McKenzie friend. On being refused he sought judicial review of he decision to exclude him.
Held: Review was refused. A McKenzie friend has himself no locus to challenge a decision by a county court judge not to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice

Updated: 28 April 2022; Ref: scu.180926

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