Mensah 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 the defendants, we took the exceptional course in this highly unsatisfactory situation of allowing Mr Alexander to speak for Mr Mensah.
But I must make it clear that this should not be taken as creating any precedent as to how those who have no right of audience can act as advocates for litigants in person. Anyone who aspires to be an advocate should obtain the requisite qualifications, and the court should be very slow to permit those who are allowed to be present in court as Mackenzie friends to act as advocates. That is not the proper function of a Mackenzie friend. The position in law was recently restated by this court in R v Bow County Court ex parte Pelling [1999] 1 WLR 1807. I repeat and endorse the warning given by Lord Woolf MR at page 1825 that if a person chooses to appear regularly as a Mackenzie friend and uses the litigant as a mere puppet, such behaviour could provide a firm foundation for a judge not wishing him to be present as a Mackenzie friend.’


Peter Gibson LJ, Arden LJ


[2000] EWCA Civ 405, [2002] CP Rep 2




England and Wales


CitedMcKenzie 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 . .

Cited by:

CitedGuidance (McKenzie Friends) 2005
Sir Mark Potter gave guidance on the acceptance of McKenzie Friends as advocates: ‘A court may grant an unqualified person a right of audience in exceptional circumstances only and only after careful consideration (D v S (Rights of Audience) [1997] . .
CitedIn Re N (A Child) FD 20-Aug-2008
There had been several hearings and the father had been assisted by a McKenzie friend permitted to address the court. The father now objected to the mother’s McKenzie friend being given similar leave.
Held: Whilst Dr Pelling might make a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Local Government, Negligence, Legal Professions, Litigation Practice

Updated: 27 June 2022; Ref: scu.218706