What is a McKenzie Friend?
The McKenzie Friend is able to sit alongside the litigant to provide moral support; to help manage their papers; to take notes, and to provide advice to guide them through the process. New Zealand courts, as well as Australian and UK recognise the value of the McKenzie Friend as a lay advocate which is a role that is distinct from a lawyer or barrister. For example, a McKenzie Friend is not qualified to give what is termed " legal counsel" to clients neither can they cross examine witnesses in court, although they can discretely suggest questions the litigant may ask. In some instances, the court may grant leave to a McKenzie Friend to address the court but this is very unusual and there is a protocol related to this.
A McKenzie Friend Professional is an advocate and support person for people who elect to represent themselves in court. People will choose to represent themselves because they cannot afford a lawyer, or because they are not eligible for legal aid, or in some cases a person may prefer to conduct their own case. This person is known as a self - litigant. The role of a McKenzie Friend Professional is recognised as a responsible, informed and ethical one. In the first instance the purpose is to provide assistance to a litigant to help them prepare their case and help them navigate the legal system and present their case in a court or tribunal.
When a litigant does not have legal representation, they have the right to have a McKenzie Friend accompany them in court.
McKenzie Friend Professionals supports the right of every person to access to justice and to a fair hearing.