Category Archives: Right of Audience

McKENZIE FRIENDS under the looking glass: a report from the Legal Consumer Services Panel

14 04 18 Fee charging McKenzie FriendsThis report covers four types of McKenzie Friends:

  • one off helpers
  • occasional and regular volunteers
  • fee-charging ‘amateurs’
  • fee-charging ‘professionals’

Struck off lawyers may also turn into McKenzie Friends.

The report aims at balancing between ‘access to justice‘ and ‘consumer protection‘ and makes 15 recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Fee-charging McKenzie Friends should be recognised as a legitimate feature of the evolving legal services market.

Attitudes of judges and lawyers Continue reading

LEARNING by DOING: how to assist Litigants in Person as McKenzie Friend – a lesson for us and the Courts

This is the Practice Guidance that shows that I should NOT have been kicked out of Lincoln County Court yesterday.

Our introduction letters got us in as McKenzie Friends, but we didn’t get ‘right of audience’. As ‘web publisher’, I knew I wouldn’t, for I was told once before that

You don’t understand confidentiality.

But: preparing paperwork is one level of assistance; speaking in court is another one; ‘assisting’ by whispering and passing notes is the third ‘mode of operation’.

When the Pedros submitted our ‘position statement’, Lincolnshire County Court’s barrister alerted the judge to the blog that I had created for the family.

The barrister alerted the judge also to the fact that I am the person associated with the website for Vicky Haigh (set to ‘private’ a long time ago).

Before the Pedros went into court, my Co-McKenzie Friend offered the other side that I’d set the Pedro site to ‘private’.

For this morning’s hearing, they had produced

  • an Order that claims Carla Pedro had breached the gag and should therefore be imprisoned – to Carla responded “no problem”;
  • a printout of Sir James Munby’s judgement that appeals to courts to ‘adapt to the realities of the internet, particularly social media’;
  • a ‘case outline’ which lied about the allegations of the 13- year-old boy who had written letters complaining about social worker Lee Watkinson and his fear of ‘bum rape’.

Yesterday the question about how a Portuguese boy learns about ‘bum rape’ was refused…

More about the case later.

#melissalaird in Court 18 @ the RCJ – on behalf of US mother deported whilst her only child is kept for adoption

20131205_135110[1]The Queen on the application of Melissa 20131205_135206[1]Laird
v. Secretary of State for the Home Department
CO 9385/2013

Application for Judicial Review of Melissa’s deportation to the USA September
Before Anthony Elleray QC sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court
Queen’s Bench Division, Administrative Court 18, 5 December 2013, 10.30

Prior to Melissa’s case 2 other applications were heard, both for leave to appeal against deportations brought by foreign fathers with children still in UK (the court stenographer said Court 18 was a very sad place…). Melissa’s application only arrived before the judge at 12.50, brought on her behalf by members of the Association of McKenzie Friends (AMF) Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie, assisted by especially by Terence Ewing, but also Meirion Bowen and Caul Grant.

Continue reading

McKENZIE SUCCESS: Permission to Appeal an Adoption Order GRANTED

It was only thanks to a major team effort that this could happen today:

And then:

  1. travelling to the mother whose two daughters were taken by… I shall refrain from naming and shaming the Council for now; they know who they are…
  2. submitting an Application for Contact (form C100 – obtainable from your local court or online here!!!)
  3. digging into her life story and building trust – despite all her bad experiences
  4. attending a ‘Directions’ hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice
  5. reminding Social Services to comply to the order made
  6. learning to use Google docs to co-author a ‘skeleton argument and amended grounds for appeal’ and submit it in time
  7. getting ready for a hearing about the Permission to Appeal
  8. visiting Social Services who had not complied to the Order
  9. producing a ‘Position Statement’ – just in case – for ‘the other side’ were going to produce something…
  10. submitting the McKenzie CV and asking for ‘right of audience’ which was granted. [Since it's up to the discretion of the judge, one never knows...]

The mother came out crying with, I presume a mix of joy and relief, for “she got it”: the permission to appeal. The Appeal will be heard in nearly 3 months: in May 2013.

The key is the precedent case made by Judge Munby, the current President of the Family Division who had said [para 44, iv]

to take a baby at birth is a dreadful thing: dreadful for the father, the mother and the baby…

It refers to this case in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which emphasised at paras [116], [131], [133],

that the removal of a child from his mother at or shortly after birth is a “draconian” and “extremely harsh” measure, requiring “exceptional justification” and “extraordinarily compelling reasons” under Article 8.

PS. Our meeting with Austin Mitchell MP in the afternoon is on this blog post.

Legal Maxim “He who fails to assert his rights has none.”


HM Prison Armley & Anor [2011] EWHC 2269 (Admin) (26 August 2011)
URL: ttp://
Cite as: [2011] EWHC 2269 (Admin)

1. … I was also asked to consider (by his McKenzie friend, Mr Jarvis) whether or not it was open to me to hear an application by the Claimant to purge his contempt.

3. … I was also addressed by his McKenzie friend, Mr Jarvis.

4. At the hearing on 25 August 2011 I was addressed at length by the Claimant. Mr Jarvis also made representations on his behalf.

7. The Claimant was not represented by a lawyer …

8. … Mr Jarvis made short submissions in support of those contentions. …

Continue reading