What is a McKenzie Friend?
Due to the cost of instructing a solicitor or barrister, many people now decide to represent themselves at courts and tribunals. In addition, more people are now representing themselves at important meetings with banks, Inland Revenue, councils and other corporates. While there are many perils and challenges in doing this well, New Zealand law now allows the assistance of a support person (known as a McKenzie Friend) during these proceedings.
What A McKenzie Friend Can Do:
A McKenzie Friend can:
• Assist you in preparing your case for the court and/or important meetings
• Take notes to support you in meetings and courts/tribunals
• Assist in preparing case notes
• Respectfully provide advice on:
- aspects of law and proper procedure
- key points you may wish to raise in court
- key questions you may wish to ask any witnesses
• Provide personal support to, before, during and after your case
What A McKenzie Friend
How Did McKenzie Friend Start?
The term 'McKenzie Friend' arose during a 1971 family law case in the UK, between McKenzie v McKenzie. Australian Barrister Ian Hangar was refused permission to support Mr McKenzie, an unrepresented party in divorce proceedings.
On a later appeal, the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial Judge had been incorrect in not allowing Mr McKenzie to have Mr Hangar's professional support.
New Zealand Law
In 2012, the New Zealand Law Commission assessed the relevance of McKenzie Friends in its 2012 report 'Review of the Judicature Act 1908: Towards a new Courts Act'.
The Commission decided that litigants should be able to have a support person alongside them in court, unless that person would cause any issues during the efficient administration of justice.
The New Zealand Law Society agreed, supporting a litigant to use a lay assistant or McKenzie Friend.