Guidance on the appointment of McKenzie friends (High Court)

Chief Master Marsh has provided helpful guidance on the approach when considering applications for permission to appoint a McKenzie friend in the case of Ravenscroft v Canal & River Trust [2016] .

A McKenzie friend assists a litigant in person in a court of law in England and Wales. This person does not need to be legally qualified. The crucial point is that litigants in person are entitled to have assistance, lay or professional, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Chief Master Marsh noted that the relevant starting point was to consider whether the applicant reasonably needed the assistance of a McKenzie friend and to determine the appropriate scope of any assistance. He stated that consideration should be given not just of the applicant’s personal position but, also, the context in which the application was made, and principles in the overriding objective.

In Ravenscroft, the judge weighed the considerations and concluded that it was appropriate to appoint a McKenzie friend.  He further accepted that the McKenzie friend should have rights of advocacy even though that is “an exceptional course of action … only justified by exceptional circumstances”.

For full details seeRavenscroft v Canal & River Trust [2016] EWHC 2282 (Ch).

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