Regina 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, and not of the McKenzie friend, who must remember the division between friend and advocate. A judge should normally give reasons for refusing to allow a friend to attend.
The court summarised its conclusions: ‘(1) In relation to proceedings in public, a litigant in person should be allowed to have the assistance of a McKenzie friend unless the judge is satisfied that fairness and the interests of justice do not require a litigant in person to have the assistance of a McKenzie friend. (2) The position is the same where the proceedings are in chambers unless the proceedings are in private. (3) Where the proceedings are in private then the nature of the proceedings which make it appropriate for them to be heard in private may make it undesirable in the interests of justice for a McKenzie friend to assist. (4) A judge should give reasons for refusing to allow a litigant in person the assistance of a McKenzie friend. (5) The assistance of a McKenzie friend is available for the benefit of the litigant in person and whether or not a McKenzie friend is paid or unpaid for his services, he has no right to provide those services; the court is solely concerned with the interests of the litigant in person.’


Lord Woolf MR, Brooke and Robert Walker LJJ


Times 18-Aug-1999, Gazette 17-Dec-1999, [1999] EWCA Civ 2004, [1999] 1 WLR 1807, [1999] 2 FLR 1126




England and Wales


ExplainedMcKenzie 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 . .
See AlsoRegina v Bow County Court ex parte Dr Pelling Admn 30-Jun-1998
Dr Pelling applied for leave to challenge a refusal of permission to him to assist an applicant as a McKenzie friend. . .
Appeal fromRegina 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 . .
CitedIn Re H (A Minor) (Chambers Proceedings: Mckenzie Friend) CA 6-May-1997
A father sought ex parte, permission to appeal against orders in the county court. The first had refused to allow him to have a McKenzie friend in an application for contact to his daughter. The Recorder had taken the view that because the . .

Cited by:

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 . .
See AlsoPelling, Regina (on the Application Of) v Bow County Court CA 22-Jan-2001
Application for permission to appeal from refusal of leave to bring judicial review. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice

Updated: 19 May 2022; Ref: scu.85133