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Bad Mckenzie Friend!(128 Posts)
I'm new here and was after some advice.
My ex has custody of our daughter (aged 12) who would now like to live with me. I asked a Mckenzie friend for help, he said it would be no problem, i just needed to pay him for filing the papers with the courts and for his time to fill them in. i paid him the money and waited for a week. Nothing. I called him and he said a hearing was taking place the following week that i didn't need to attend and that my ex had been served with the papers. I know my ex and if he had the papers, there is no way he wouldn't say anything to me, i heard nothing from him. The MF said he was likely staying quiet because he was going to contest it but he'd send me a report of the 'serving of papers' again, i had nothing. after the first hearing had happened, i asked if there was an outcome, the MF said yes, there is a hearing i need to attend in 3 weeks, i said ok, can i have the papers to confirm when and where it is for my own peace of mind. He agreed to send them on 3 different occasions, nothing ever arrived. I then called the local family court to see what was happening, they hadn't heard of me or the case. I told MF this and he agreed to meet up with me the following day, he didn't show up at 2 different arranged times. i asked for my money back which he agreed to, but again nothing happened! i threatened to call the police, he said he was transferring the money back to me and sending my papers, to date i've had nothing, i don't know what to do and need some help from someone, i doubt very much the police can do anything, i can provide details of this person to stop anyone else being duped by him but right now, my concern is my daughter and getting my money back so i can proceed with the court case myself. Any advice is gratefully appreciated.
oh dear, I'm sorry to say you have learnt the hard way
(Most) MF's are not legally qualified. There are no doubt a few that are/were qualified but few and far between.
I'm sure that you are not supposed to pay MFs, I believe they are supposed to help on a voluntary basis.
You need to instruct a family lawyer asap. Have a look at the Resolution website for one in your area. Good luck
What MOS said. You have unfortunately been had. MFs are supposed to be people who just hold your hand through the process as necessary, they can not act on your behalf in the same way as a lawyer.
Get a family lawyer to file an application for a residence order (or if money's tight, you can find all the forms online on the Justice Dept website).
If the MF doesn't refund your money you'll have to issue a small claims court summons against him.
How much have you paid him?
Thanks for the responses, I knew he'd done me over, just needed it confirmed I'm £400 worse off, probably not worth taking him to court over, its sickening that there are people out there who will scam someone because they want the best for their kids! will just have to name and shame him wherever I can! Thanks again
Unless your local court is a monster one, it's worth remembering that if you sue him and he defends it, he's likely to end up in front of one of the very judges who decides whether he can come in as a MF. I'm sorry you got done. What a shit.
You really don't need someone to fill in forms for you, the C100 is mainly filling in things like your name. You'll need 4 copies for the court, and the court fee of £200. Good luck!
And next time, talk to a solicitor about fixed fees, most firms are working to do what they can within normal peoples' budgets.
Thanks Mrs bb, I'm still 'negotiating' with this guy, he reckons he's now filled in all the paperwork, highly doubtful as I haven't signed anything! I'll keep you posted on what happens, I just want my daughter to be happy Xx
Why not go to the police? Surely this is fraud?
I've PM'd you. what a horrible person.
horrified for you that you've lost £400. Do you know that filing a C100 form costs just £200? You can fill it out yourself and represent yourself in court (called Litigant in Person) and the judge should take you no less seriously. My DP has been doing it for years. It's actually far better to represent yourself rather than have a solicitor or applying to have a MF speak for you because if you are represented you aren't allowed to speak at all and if there's a point you feel needs to be made that your representative isn't aware of it can get very frustrating.
If, however, you do feel that you need a MF there is a list of credited ones on the Families Need Fathers website. MF's should not be charging, it is voluntary. If they ask for money (other than court fees) report them to the site and they will be removed from the list.
He's on that list, right at the bottom, I've just looked on his facebook page and I'm not the only one he's done this to
Report him to the site and get him removed - he has to be stopped from robbing people.
Definitely report. Perhaps if you tell him you are reporting him he might refund you.
There was a thread a few weeks back about MFs. Most of the regular family lawyers on here posted warnings about them but of course there were a few MFs on the thread who were very negative towards the lawyers and said how much better MFs were. Just goes to show......
I went through all that with him last week when he didn't show up twice for a meeting! I'm hoping karma will get him and bite him like a bitch! I'll try and get my money back, I'll keep you all posted on what happens, thank you all again for taking the time to read my post xxxx
yes we warned people as they are enirely unregulated though they are unfortunately allowed to charge people. they are not [save in rare circumstances] allowed to speak on a litigant's behalf contrary to what was suggested above.
it is a con and you should report them to whichever website they are on as well as Trading Standards
ps I know that the current chair of the Bar Maura McGowan would also be very interested in knowing the details of your case if you would like to email her as the Bar is very concerned about the lack of regulation of MFs
Hi babybarrister, I wish I'd checked on here and done more research before handing any money over, further research reveals he was made bankrupt less than 2 years ago yet claims he is running the 'company'? I though this wasn't allowed? Anyway, I digress, I will email her all the details, its absurd that this is allowed to continue, unregulated and without any help from the police if you get scammed by someone claiming to be a mf, I'm happy to pay people for work they do for me but expect them to actually do the job!
Also, I left a note on his company facebook page which he didn't like so he's deleted the facebook page and his website! Just goes to show what a coward he is!
I would not negotiate for him to carry on working for you under any circumstances. You would be better doing it entirely on your own if you cannot afford a qualified and regulated solicitor rather than using this person.
You can call the court to see if he has actually filed anything. It doesn't sound like it, but you could check.
But generally, I second/third the others on here who have said to just do the form filling yourself. The notes that come with the forms explain what you have to do and are drafted with non-lawyers in mind.
I called the courts 2 weeks ago and nothing had been filed, he is insisting that it was filed on May 2nd! I'll call them again in the morning before I call the police, he has to be stopped, its hard enough fighting one person for your child's rights, fighting 2 different people makes it ten times harder. I'll be filling in the forms myself and filing them with the courts tomorrow afternoon, thanks all xx
A MK can't file papers...if he told you he would he doesn't know what he is talking about. A MK can't act as your agent, nor can they litigate on your behalf or have automatic rights of audience.
Assuming you signed a contract with him you can likely him sue him under breach of contract.
Sorry to hear about your experience - there are bad McKenzie Friends as there are bad solicitors and barristers (although I would add that the `regulation' such legal professionals undergo means just about nothing).
Without playing the hindsight game it's always worth asking for references and the background of anyone who is going to help you in court. The McKenzie Friend world is very small (it's something I do) and someone doing this sort of thing gets known very quickly. It's generally good to be as involved in your own case as much as possible when you have a MF (as you're going to be speaking for yourself in court any way) and as others will point out we don't have the right to conduct litigation or act as an agent for you.
I am a member of FNF too. Call them and let them know (they've just moved offices though). Or PM me - this sort of thing should not happen and I'd be happy to assist.
sorry lostdad but regulation most certainly DOES mean something - so does insurance!!!
if I did this, I would be struck off - and rightly so
He's committed fraud and stolen money from you. Definitely report him to the police.
Thanks for the info lostdad, unfortunately I'm not his only victim, I've spoken to the police who put me in touch with trading standards as apparently its not a criminal offence but a civil matter! nice that they're looking after the citizens of this country who have paid taxes for years to pay their wages! It just feels like he's gotten away with it Scott free.
I've emailed fnf to have him removed from their list, I'll let you know if anything happens on that front, in the meantime, I now have two battles to fight, instead of just concentrating on my daughter. Sick man, needs to be locked up.
Sorry babybarrister but regulation means nothing.
There have been precisely zero lawyers penalised by Resolution since it has been existed. Furthermore I can confirm that someone complain about a solictor they will likely be told that they will not be informed of the progress of the complaint nor the outcome (although sometimes they may redress outrageous fees somewhat - my other half is currently working on such as case as a MK...and includes figures plucked out of the air, no itemisation of bills and work not carried out).
When it comes to the the Law Society this sort of thing (http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/advice/practice-notes/litigants-in-person/) is routinely ignored: The people I have assisted have been lied to, bullied (well...attempts to do so), making false claims (such as implying orders have been made when they haven't) and acting without instruction. These particular activities are also mentioned in the SRA Code.
In my humble opinion I would advise anyone who thinks that regulation by the SRA, Resolution, etc means anything ask someone who has made a complaint to them and/or gone through a court case.
Lost dad, if you read the webpages of the relevant regulators you will see solicitors are very closely regulated. Lists of recent striking off decisions and other sanctions here eg:
The legal profession is highly regulated.
the Police deal with criminal law, it's a civil debt (i.e. breach of contract), do you expect them to deal with everything??! Pretty sure they are busy with the citizens of this country who've had criminal offences committed against them.
Sorry to hear you're going through this.
Just found someone else he's conned! I can't comment on whether regulation would help stop people like this, but this is now definitely a criminal matter in my opinion?
lostdad - as you well know Resolution is not the regulator, it is simply a family lawyers' association that no-one has to join in order to practice. The regulators for lawyers are the SRA and the Bar Standards Board. Your comments are simply factually incorrect. Look at the lists of people disciplined for things much less serious than the conduct of this MF ....
The REALITY rather than posturing comments is that this MF will be ABSOLUTELY free to continue plying his "trade" - if he has been doing this for so long, how come he is still on the FNF website?
I have emailed fnf about him and will call them tomorrow to have him removed, I'm also getting in touch with hmrc as I doubt very much he is registered as self employed or as a company - he had no company registration number listed on his website (not sure if its legally required to be). He asks for the money to be paid to his wifes account, she is listed as doing the admin for him on the now non existent website.
good for you! go girl ....
I had similar issue for someone relating to a private investigator - was taking people's money all over the place (usually wives wanting their adulterous husband tracked) , lots of money and then not doing the work in most cases and not returning the money and putting his companies into liquidation legally to avoid creditors.
Women divorcing need to be very careful as they can be a bit vulnerable so more open to fraudsters. The man in ths case on the thread might just be a bit slow of course and planning to do the work and/or return the money.
He does not have to be a company. Do you have his address? If he is registered for VAT - again he does not have to be if turnover low - then you can track that back to the address even for a sole trader (someone operating not as a company). You could try reporting him to trading standards too if he is engaging in misleading advertising.
Yes, I think just about everyone knows that solicitors are the most heavily regulated or just about sector in the UK and MFs are not regulated at all but the problem is that most people on £13k - £20k a year or with no money cannot afford solicitors and cannot get divorce loans (there are loans you can get based on what you will win from a richer spouse but if neither spouse has much mnoey they are not any use either) so you either do it yourself, find someone who will help for nothing which is going to be pretty hard when most solicitors are working to feed their families so cannot do all their work for nothing just as you woudl find it hard to find a plumber to do your works for nothing or pay someone like a MF (and some are okay).
Doing it yourself whilst paying someone to check the documents might be a better route as you will be in charge of pushing the process forwards, submitting everything and then you pay someone just to check what you have done.
lostdad - there are two struck off barristers in THE LAST 4 WEEKS - the profession is about 15,000 so you can hardly say that this is no regulation. the details also make interesting reading -
1. struck off for fraud - unlike this MF who is FREE to continue unless and until he is actually jailed which will presumably prevent him from attending court... - though perhaps his equally untrained wife could "help out" at that stage
2. struck off for not reporting his bankruptcy - eeeeerm and MFs will have to do precisely what in relation to bankruptcy?! ooo - nothing ! as in fact the poor OP has found out given that the cheques are paid into the MF's wife account .....
don't let the facts get in the way though ....
the other option is to go to a DIrect Access Barrister who will do it much more cheaply than a solicitor and probably than most MFs from what I have read on here! what exactly were you offered for £400?
It was for forms to be filled in and filed with the courts, he wanted more money to attend court but luckily I checked with the court to confirm the dates (which keep changing according to him!) He kept promising to send my papers to me but nothing arrived, I know for a fact he didn't do anything other than lie about it all!
If you think you can be bothered you could write to him by special delivery and give him 7 days to repay your £400 otherwise you will sue him. If he does not repay it in that time then register with moneyclaimsonline and start a court action against him. If he does not defend that you can apply for a judgment on line (there are court fees to pay) and then send bailiffs in although if he is bankrupt or disappears it will not get you your £400.
It might be worth if you cannot afford a solicitor or direct access barrister doing it yourself and finding someone just to check the paperwork for you.
Also have you tried a meeting with your ex husband and your daughter so you can all agree what is best to be done? That might be cheaper and easier and everyone can stay more friendly and the resulting arrangements may last better. There may well be a compromise between her moving from one parent to another.
£400 was a rip off I am afraid for filling in the forms ....
certainly try mediation as well - it is perfectly possible to mediate whilst also having court proceedings
I have several addresses for him, I'll pass them on to hmrc and the police, its £1400 now between the 3 of us that he's duped, he's got a massive shower of Brown stuff coming his way!
It sounds like both a civil and criminal matter to me. This guy is commiting fraud. He is also breaching the agreement you had with him. Well done OP for doing what you can to get him stopped.
lostdad you appear to be speaking with an orifice of your body that is not your mouth. Still, babybarrister has set you straight. The Regulation of solicitors and barristers is by no means non-existent!
I will do everything I can, I've been bullied by my ex for years, there is no way someone else is going to take the piss as well!
LOL at Euro who has summed up extremely well what babybarrister was far too polite to say
Can I name the guy on here in a separate post? I need to find out if he has any other victims out there, there are two others apart from me that I know of, I need to know how far back this goes, or if he actually ever helped anyone and we were just people he couldn't be bothered with,
If what you say is entirely accurate you probably can name him, but it might be better if you don't for mumsnet and for you. When I was looking into someone else the way I found the other victims was a google search of his name which took me to discussions online by them.
Hi xenia, thanks for the heads up, I will not name him on here. One question though, how would anyone else find out who this conversation is about through a google search if I don't mention him or his company? I know exactly where you're coming from on the accuracy thing, I just think its unfair that me and the other two people have gone through all this and not been able to stop anyone going to him and being ripped off, thanks anyway x
Out of interest if a solicitor acted without my instruction - what is the sanction for that?
More detail required. What do you mean exactly by acting without your instruction?
A client engages a solicitor to act in the place of the client for legal purposes (as in signing contracts) and a solicitor may conduct litigation on behalf of their clients by making applications to the court, writing letters in litigation to the client's opponent, and so on.
Acting without instruction could mean various things. They would not on a daily basis obtain instructions for every single thing they do which would never work in practice. If they had never acted for you before and you had not given them the go ahead to start they might find it had to charge you for the work. If they did something unexpected once working for you no solicitor would do without client consent then that is likely to mean they were at fault.
hi there, im pretty sure i know EXACTLY who you are talking about. Bank account in wife's name etc. Initials M and W by any chance? Too many coincidences to be a different bloke I think.
I was putting in an application a few months back and a MF filed papers on behalf of someone else and got a receipt! I was shocked because I believe this not to be right.. and I couldn't even get a receipt for mine!
Sorry to hear you have been had brokemybank... I hope u report him, asap.
The rules concerning McKenzie Friends are clear and a they should not be acting as agents...meaning that they shouldn't be filing papers on behalf of litigants in person. I also know of McKenzie Friends who tell prospective clients that they will get rights of audience - something they cannot guarantee, shouldn't even suggest they should nor should they expect it. A worst case scenario could see someone who isn't up to speaking in court being expected to do so.
If the McKenzie Friend in this thread is on the FNF list, report him to head office. People have been removed. It's worth noting that everyone on that list should be signed up to a Charter outlining how they should and shouldn't work.
As others have said - Google anyone you're considering using. I'm on a few lists, google my name and you'll find me on a website and information about me on my LinkedIn profile. I advise anyone calling me to shop around because it is a serious business.
No shock that there are bad apples though...I've even met one or two bad solicitors and barristers...
Lost dad - perhaps you. Could identify exactly what your code of conduct is then?! and who exactly is it that could discipline you?! as ore my previous posts ,....
Anyway OP long overdue there is to be a proper investigation into paid McFs who are entire un regulated. The good ones I know in fact wish. To be regulated ....
The case is now in the hands of trading standards and police. There are many, many people they have done this to and i hope justice will be served when/if this goes to trial. I hold his wife equally responsible for this, no one can be that clueless or stupid!
THe legal services Consumer panel is doing a report into MFs - can I suggest that you contact them too
On another note:
There are dodgy Solicitors and Barristers - See the 'Solicitors from Hell' website.
There are also dodgy McKenzie Friends.
Thing is, you will lose substantially less with a dodgy Mckenzie Friend than a dodgy lawyer.
You should check out McKenzie Friends very carefully as you should do with Solicitors and Barristers....
Rogues amongst the lot of them, but very good ones as well.
as I said there is NO regulation for MFs and it is not for JD2510 or anyone else to say whether this man is a MF as he can call himself exactly what he likes as there is no regulation ....THIS IS THE VERY PROBLEM!
of course as I am sure most MFs must realise there is absolutely NOTHING to stop struck off lawyers from being MFs and charging people - FACT that there are quite a few out there who can say in all honesty that they have years of experience ,,,,,!!!
in fact I think I might do it myself - saves all those nasty costs of regulation, insurance, data protection etc etc .....
there is a well known "employment advisor" who conducts hearings who was struck off as a member of the Bar for racism!!!!
I am very sorry to hear of your McKenzie Friend debacle. The person you paid money to is like no MF I have ever heard of. Most charge a pittance for their help compared to solicitors (many at about £10 to £20 per hour) and are far more approachable. I would like to hear what happened in your case, if you can let us know.
Noelrobx, charging 'a pittance' does not make a McKenzie Friend superior to a solicitor. There's a reason they charge less - because they're unqualified. Crikey. I think I'll start charging people money to be a psychiatrist friend. I'm like a psychiatrist, only I don't have a medical degree, or done a psychiatry speciality, or done any vocational training at all, and I haven't qualified in any way, shape, or form. But I'm nice, I've read a bit of stuff and done a few courses and I only charge £5ph. Clearly I am better for my clients...
Most contact cases aren't legally complicated though. Legal aid has been pulled and people are struggling to cover the cost of being represented in one of the slowest and most inefficient systems I have had the misfortune to be involved in.
We had a barrister, cost us £1K and her advice set us back 9 months in terms of case progression. We have no recourse there. Our solicitor bill touched £1500 before we even got unsupervised contact and there's literally no reason for there not to be - no DV, no drugs/alcohol, no long gaps with no contact, just an anxious RP with a slippery solicitor... The system is dreadful and there are plenty of solicitors who know how to drag cases out without breaking any regulations.
Yes, regulation would be helpful but McKenzie Friends do have a place here where the relevant law isn't complex or where a LIP would be going in alone. Our MF is very helpful and actually our case only progressed when we did the exact opposite of the barristers advice. We have also learned a lot ourselves.
Munkysea, calm down! Where did I say MFs were superior to solicitors? Yes, most MFs are unqualified in family law. I don't have an electrician's qualification but I can wire a plug. I am not a qualified mechanic but I can change an oil filter. I'm not a qualified cook but I can rustle up a decent omelette. How can you compare the family courts with psychiatry? Family lawyers are the most over-rated 'professionals' I have ever met. The words 'money', 'old' and 'rope' come springing to mind. It's about time we demystified family law and encouraged ordinary people to take charge of their own lives. Yes, solicitors probably know what words to use when addressing the judge but is that worth £500 per hour?
I am calm. I will cop to sarcasm, though. ;)
junior barristers charge considerably LESS than most MFs though ...!!!!!
a half day hearing would cost about £250 with a junior barrister INCLUDING all the prep
have a look at Direct Access barristers if you are interested
I certainly after 20 years don't charge £500 ph - this is all just piffle
The partners in my place don't charge £500ph, and certainly not the solicitors either. If a party is paying £500ph for a solicitor, then it's their money and they're free to spend it how they wish, and they've probably instructed Mischon de Reya or a firm like that. I appreciate you're exaggerating for effect, but it ignores a) fixed costs, such as what babybarrister quoted above, b) not all solicitors charge £500ph, c) fixed costs negotiated between client and solicitor and d) that a legal executive/legal executive advocate who would be cheaper than a solicitor, but still be qualified and regulated, can undertake the family law work too. Of course, legal executives do have to be supervised by an authorised person (usually a solicitor) if undertaking reserved activities.
No, sorry, not exaggerating for effect. My 5th solicitor (1st 4 were useless money-grubbing thieves) cost £275 plus VAT (£330) per hour and the 6th was £500 per hour; both 10 years ago. I am in London, which may well have added to costs and they may well be more now. I spent over £20k on 3 hearings with sol/barristers.
What 'fixed costs' are you talking about? Court application costs were extra, I'm just talking about payments to the lawyers at their hourly rate. All the talk about junior barristers and legal executives is nonsense because when you know nothing about legal matters and are fighting to see your child again all that is never mentioned by sols.
Ok. I'd be narked about paying £500ph nowadays, let alone 10 years ago.
Junior barristers are often worse than useless in the family courts; they often don't seem to understand that it is not a battle over law in the family courts.
Most cases are about simple concepts of a schedule of care or holidays or similar, and need sensitive and experienced help. Junior barristers running around with their red book looking for a fight, cause no end of mayhem in the courts and bump up their wage packets as well by stoking the fires.
They read the brief the night before or on the train on the way to Court; then talk a lot but without any real effect on seasoned Judges who politely listen but ignore them for the most part.
Money down the drain generally.
According to the Legal Services Consumer Panel (law watchdog), yesterday:
"Fee-charging McKenzie Friends provide valuable support to people and improve access to justice in the large majority of cases."
The legal watchdog, the Legal Services Consumer Panel also said that it was the 'junior' lawyers who did not understand or appreciate the benefit to the system of fee-charging McKenzie Friends.
What a surprise, not after reading the 'junior' lawyers on here carping and not very surprisingly, offer little in the line of a persuadable argument. Very poor!
Judges and senior lawyers often appreciated that people had a fee-charging McKenzie Friend to assist them as it helped the Court and gave these people access to justice, they would not otherwise have.
‘Culture change’ needed to embrace fee-charging McKenzie friends
You're a member of the vested interests club that benefits from the status quo.
Why should I be paying you and the solicitor 10-20k to see my child.
I'm guessing you have acted for both the applicant and respondant in private family law cases...never heard you argue against the adversarial nature of the system?
Ctually I am a mediator and think most people should try that first!
I strongly believe that if people are going to charge for a service - whatever that may be- in connection with family proceedings then they should be regulated.
Solicitors are regulated, barristers are regulates, legl execs are regulated - why should MFs be any different?
If mr Bloggs set himself up as a barrister then he would be prevented from doinmg so ...
Once again those not in favour of regulation cannot point to anything stopping this fraudster from continuing to ply his business - presumably he could even continue from behind bars!
BabyB - So you have been talking about the family courts, when you do NOT actually work in them!
Typical, don't deal with dodgy barristers and solicitors at Court or know the rubbish they come out with at times and the poor information they provide, whilst charging an arm and a leg, yet lecture everybody on here about something you have little or no knowledge of, as you are a mediator only.
Don't tell us about the 'real' price of barristers or solicitors as you have to use them first, to see how costs escalate enormously very quickly.
Mediators make referrals to their favourite lawyers and in return get referrals back from lawyers, nice little game.
Solicitors, barristers, legal execs are regulated but the satisfaction rates with them are atrocious in the family courts, regulation provides little or nothing for lawyers clients as a redress or protection. It's a boys and girls club.
Spare us the ill-informed preaching in future please.
I should have said I am ALSO a mediator so you can calm down dear!
If you are so dissatisfied with all the professionals in the family courts, are you really saying MFs will be better?!
This is typical of the disingenuous talk and/or incompetence that you get from lawyers very often in family courts. When challenged about her being a Barrister; s/he says s/he is a Mediator. When challenged about being a Mediator, s/he then says oh sorry I am both. No wonder people simply do not trust family court lawyers.
Mediation is just another way to get more money out of peoples pockets by lawyers and their associates. You have to see a mediator (who is usually a lawyer), adding to their income and delaying a determination of the issues of many cases. Another racket of the lawyers, to earn more money from family breakdown.
Some Mckenzie Friends will be excellent; some will be moderately effective; some worse than useless (as with lawyers). Main thing is they are a fraction of the 'true' cost of solicitors and barristers.
The Legal Services Consumer Panel (the legal watchdog) say McKenzie Friends are good for access of justice for people & for the family court system.
I'd rather listen to the law watchdog who is in favour of MF's, than disgruntled junior barristers and solicitors who are looking after their own financial interests first and foremost, as always.
Imagine somebody making the argument that JUST BECAUSE one is not qualified doesn't mean they're not a good doctor/pilot/engineer.
Teachers are quite rightly campaigning about proposals to dilute the training requirements for teachers.
I intend to set myself up as a rocket scientist. Don't know what the f* I'm doing, but at least most people can afford to hire me.
Family law in many contact cases is not rocket science.
Knowledge of caselaw, statute, rules of evidence, practice directions, procedure, not to mention advocacy skills and the experience of knowing which way a judge is likely to go.
And yet people do successfully self represent because they have no other choice now that legal aid has been removed, or because they can't afford the cost even though they earn above what the LA threshold was.
If you have a straightforward case, paying for a barrister can be unnecessary. It can even set your case backwards - that's what happened for us.
Solicitors and barristers absolutely have a place in the family courts, so do McKenzie Friends. There's little point taking a MF if you're in front of magistrates where the MF is unlikely to get RoA and don't feel like you can set your case out well yourself; there's little point taking a barrister at £500-1000+ per day if your case is simple and you can construct a sensible argument and present it well. If your case is more complex then you may well need a sol/barrister. You only have to read posts on lone parents and step parents to see that many cases are squabbles that should have been resolved out of court rather than disputes with valid concerns over a child's safety.
Collaborate - So you would stop Sir Alex Ferguson from teaching PE in school? He's good enough for Harvard but according to you he needs to go through your dicky training course... Nonsense.
Plus anyway, many of these MF's have legal qualifications; having done a quick Google. Some with Masters in law plus barrister and solicitor courses plus have been lawyers but prefer to McKenzie Friend.
In my experience you do not need your MF to have ROA, as a decent one (not many around (as lawyers)) will do most of the work in the position statement or provide written opening submissions, which detail your argument.
I had barristers and solicitors in my case and they cost me tens of thousands and got me nowhere, plus gave terrible advice, that damaged my case.
It was not until I got a well known and reputable Mckenzie Friend, that my case was turned around and I started to get somewhere. Ending up with the a top result for me and my kids.
Well certainly the struck off lawyers I know who are now MFs thanks to the joys of non regulation have plenty of qualifications ....
Baby, you've never facilitated a parent denying a child seeing the other purely because that parent instructs you to?
Actually babybarrister is a senior and well respected barrister. She just happens to know what she posts about.
So is my barrister, what's your point?
If you'd seen the post prior to mine you'll have seen what I was responding to, which was an unwarranted disparaging comment made against a well respected poster on this site, who has been accused of being motivated by self interest. If she was motivated by self interest I'm sure she'd never bother sharing her knowledge and experience on this forum, as there must be plenty other things she can do with her time.
There is a lot of misinformation on this thread from certain quarters.
I've googled the first 8 McKenzie Friends with qualifications that came up and checked them against the SRA list of struck-off lawyers.
None of them are on this struck-off list!
Seems to me that these MF's with Masters in law and other solicitor and barrister experience - Are certainly NOT struck-off lawyers.
Ry googling the Bar Standards Board list too ... I know for a fact that there are quite a few
Where do we find these lists of disbarred lawyers please?
It's more helpful to point people in the right direction than it is to hint at "I know something you don't know".
The Bar Standards Board has lists of barristers that have been disbarred, as Babybarrister has already rightly pointed out. The Law Society has a list of solicitors that have been struck off, and Ilex Professional Standards maintains a list of disciplinary orders made against legal executives.
JD, I don't understand where you get the idea that an incompetent Mackenzie friend will cost you less than an incompetent lawyer. Yes, he may charge lower fees, but you won't have the mechanism that you have with lawyers of getting his fees checked by the professional body or the courts, nor do you have the option of getting him disciplined by a professional body. More seriously, if he loses you your case, the actual cost may, in the family context, be the loss of contact with your child or, in the worst case scenario, loss of parental rights. If you want to repair that, you are going to have to appeal, and your chances of doing so successfully with an MF are frankly limited. Is that cost really less than the cost of having a lawyer?
I've checked on the BSB as well as the SRA and the first 8 McKenzie Friends who have excellent qualifications and may have been barristers or solicitors are NOT on the lists.
None of them suspended, disbarred or any other sentence.
More nonsense it seems from certain quarters. Talk about a lack of credibility.
Nenny - It simply does not happen generally. I know of plenty of people who have made complaints to the professional bodies about a solicitor or barrister's actions when instructed by them.
These professional bodies look after their own, except when it is criminal or another lawyer complaining about another lawyer.
Bottom line is that the OFT and the Police are the best people to go to for if you are being swindled, forget the professional lawyer regulators.
Plus in my own case and with many others I know, often lawyers are the worst people you want involved in your case. They drag matters on interminably and stoke the fires, for personal financial gain. I had MF's in my case and they turned it around after the debacle of lawyers input and taking huge monies off of me.
If you check out the Case Law in child matters, there are plenty of cases where an appeal has been successful with a McKenzie Friend, bearing in mind they are few and far between compared to lawyers. MF's are punching above their weight regarding successful appeals it seems.
Plus the Law Watchdog - 'Legal Services Consumer Panel' say in a full report that McKenzie Friends should be valued more by the family law system.
It is primarily junior lawyers who do not understand the value of good McKenzie Friends, according to them.
Fwiw, I am a barrister and a mediator in family law. I have met some dodgy barristers and some dodgy MF - in my view the dodginess of the MK is far more dangerous because they often seem emotionally over invested in the case, do not understand the demands of an adversarial trial and can give some really awful 'advice'.
In my view, what makes a mess of family cases however is often very little to do with who ever conducts the litigation but the fact that the lay clients are often in the grip of enormous psychological pain and the court is the very last arena they should be in.
If people want help/advice with family cases but are worried about costs, a good compromise might be to instruct a public access barrister who can advise or appear at court as a one off. The bar council keeps a record of all barristers who have trained this way.
I think it is a good thing for MFs to be available for people in many contact cases and do not disagree that many cases do not need lawyers BUT I think that all MFs should have some form of regulation and also insurance
People on this board may understand the nuances of barristers. solicitors and MFs but many people do not and the websites for some MFs are rather less than illuminating as to exactly what services they can offer
It is simply not true that MFs do not include struck off lawyers - they do as I know at least 2. Whether or not they pop up in the "top 8" MFs is totally irrelevant as no-one has any idea of how people are offering MF services as they are ......unregulated!!
The lack of any regulation means of course that there is nothing to prevent struck off lawyers "becoming" MFs
I also know and am recommended by some very competent MFs [some legally trained, some not] all of whom would be happy to be regulated
Finally I have also never understood why the MFs who are well qualified do not just become Legal Execs and register with ILEX instead - it may be that the devil is in the detail in relation to such registration but it would seem to be the ideal body
1. I cannot see how MFs would be in any more or less of a position to choose whether they represent "meritorious" clients than any lawyers - including yours 3xcookedchips
All lawyers represent goodies and baddies - albeit in the field of family law things are usually rather more grey than black and white....
2. I am not [sadly] a junior barrister but very long in the tooth having done this job for over 20 years. The cases I am involved in now are generally complicated and if an unrepresented party comes with a sensible MF I think it is very helpful indeed
Regarding MFs qualifying as legal executives, the devil is in the detail. Legal execs have to pass the level 3 and level 6 exams, and undertake three years of qualifying employment under an authorised person in private practice (eg a solicitor) or by an organisation where the employment is subject to the supervision by an authorised person employed in duties of a legal nature by that organisation (ie in a company's legal department or a local authority's legal department and supervised by a solicitor). So an MF would have to take all the exams (which would take 2 years studying full time, but can be taken over a longer period if studying part time) and get a job carrying out work of a legal nature which is supervised by an authorised person.
The practical issues surrounding the cost of the exams and difficulty in getting a job in the legal sector nowadays aside, I don't think there is anything to prevent a MF from qualifying as a legal executive if they so wished. CILEx and IPS are pushing for legal execs to be able to set up their own law firms in reserved areas of law. They'd be regulated and have to answer to IPS, however. I doubt IPS would see a distinction between a legal executive guiding a client through their own case and advising and representing a client if anything went wrong.
One interesting point from the Legal Consumer Services Panel report is how it paves the way for a two-tier legal system. I wonder if in the future rather more enterprising (or less scrupulous) firms will give potential clients the choice of instructing, being advised and represented in court by a solicitor/solicitor advocate/barrister (let's face it, the government wants to merge these two arms of the legal profession whether it's good for the interests of justice and clients or not), or appointing a cheaper paralegal to act as a MF and guide a LiP through the case... I bet the SRA would have a hard time swallowing this, in any case.
And by paves the way I mean actively encourages.
Reality is that good McKenzie Friends assist people to access justice, which they would never have been able to - Law Watchdog (Legal Services Consumer Panel).
The Conman who this thread is about, was NOT or ever was a McKenzie Friend, he NEVER went to Court with people and did NOT do anything a McKenzie Friend would be expected to do.
In fact he was acting as a Solicitor, by offering reserved activities (saying he was dealing with the Courts directly and representing clients in their absence), but calling himself a MF on his websites.
The OFT and Police are taking the necessary action through the Criminal Courts.
It's a shame the SRA or BSB did not take any action whatsoever against someone performing/advertising themselves doing reserved activities under the Legal Services Act.
At least then they could have demonstrated they are performing their regulation task for once, timely and efficiently.
P.S. It's also a shame that some of the so-called experts on here jumped on the bandwagon immediately, saying that this Conman was a McKenzie Friend, when he clearly was NOT according to the original post.
The original poster was hit in a scam and she has my deepest sympathy but it has nothing at all to do with McKenzie Friends, as the Conman could have done exactly the same calling himself a Solicitor or Barrister.
The Conman was offering and performing reserved activities which a McKenzie Friend or Barrister cannot do, only Solicitors. But again where was the SRA or the BSB?
JD2510, I'm not sure you fully understand the remit of the SRA or the BSB. The SRA regulates individuals who are:
a registered European lawyer;
a registered foreign lawyer;
an authorised body;
a recognised sole practitioner;
a lawyer or non-lawyer who is a manager or employee of an authorised body; or
an owner of an authorised body (this is taken from the SRA's website). I'm sure one of the barristers on this board will step in to explain the BSB's remit .
So, the SRA cannot regulate an individual like the one referred to in this thread if he does not fall into one or more of the above categories. (It appears that he does not, but I have not seen evidence either way). If it did it would be stepping outside the SRA's remit. The SRA's remit for regulation is not 'everyone doing something vaguely related to the law'. If it were, it WOULD be able to regulate this individual (and all MFs, but that's beside the point). This is not, of itself, a failing of the SRA. It's a strawman argument to complain that the SRA is not doing something that is outside of its remit.
I'm not sure what your point about whether or not the individual about which the OP's post kicked off this particular bunfight is. The OP clearly believed he was a MFm whether or not he claimed to be one to the OP. MF is not a protected term, so arguing that this individual is not a MF is pointless, because anyone doing anything can call themselves a MF, regardless of whether they are doing something that MFs commonly do or not. This issue has arisen because MFs are not regulated. Not by the SRA, not be the BSB, and not by another MF-specific regulatory body.
How would regulation have prevented the situation in the OP? Surely even with regulation, Joe Bloggs could set up a website calling himself a "McKenzie Friend" and taken people's money so the consequences would have been the same? Would this MF regulatory authority cover people posing as MFs?
If someone set themselves up as a "solicitor" on their own (dodgy) website but wasn't a solicitor, would the SRA get involved in that? Or would it be referred to the police/Trading Standards which is what has happened in this case anyway because this man isn't a MF, that's just what he's decided to call himself.
But the SRA or BSB could of and still could if they want to - Ensure this Conman is 'prosecuted' under the Legal Services Act - But they do nothing it seems.
Not interested in 'regulation' it is of zero practical use, 'prosecution' is what is needed, led/started by the SRA and BSB.
If someone puts up a website and says they are builders, but only takes your money and never builds anything for numerous people - S/he is not a builder but a Conman/Fraudster.
He clearly was not a Mckenzie Friend because he was advertising and performing tasks McKenzie Friends cannot do. He was a Conman and a Fraudster.
He was doing Solicitor tasks, illegally. But no Solicitor or Barrister seems to want to report him and follow up with the SRA in ensuring the Police are going to prosecute him under the Legal Services Act as well as by the OFT.
It is a bit sad that the lawyers on here are so keen to have a go at MF's, they jump on the bandwagon with spurious claims. Shows how desperate they are, perhaps.
Obviously he wouldn't be able to register as MF of that became a protected term, but what would stop him setting up his own website and calling himself that anyway?
Nomoretether, you make a good point and I hadn't thought of it like that. It's likely that this would still be a case of Trading Standards, sadly.
JD2510 `But the SRA or BSB could of and still could if they want to - Ensure this Conman is 'prosecuted' under the Legal Services Act - But they do nothing it seems.'
While ostensibly regulation of legal professionals by membership is a good thing it's important to realise that's it's a figleaf - by and large not worth the ink used to print the reassuring logo at the top of the letterhead. Complain to the SRA and you'll quickly realise it is pointless - you typically won't be informed of progress, the decision or the reasoning behind it.
Membership of Resolution is also problematic: In it's existence over the last 30 years zero members have been punished for ignoring the main tenet of membership: A `non-confrontational approach to family law matters'.
All of the solicitors I deal with in my capacity as a McKenzie Friend are a member of Resolution and the SRA - I would estimate that at least 50% of them break the conditions of membership of both. I have had first hand experience of this.
Complaining to the court is also meant to be a way of dealing with this too incidentally - when inconvertible proof of bullying, lying, deliberately misleading litigants they have a duty of care, attempting to exclude evidence being just a few examples - the worst I have seen a legal professional suffering is a mild verbal rebuke.
Don't get me wrong: I see bad McKenzie Friends - I've picked up the pieces from litigants in person who have suffered under them. But if the `regulation' that some are demanding of them is as rigorous as that of legal professionals it is a complete waste of time.
My advice? Shop around and ask for references for ANYONE you are entrusting your children to. Solicitors, barristers, McKenzie Friends, whatever. I provide references on demand for my clients, provide a contract which protects my clients and me and I work to a code of contact for the organisation I work with.
It's not rocket science.
This is good.
It's very interesting Spero. I was contacted by the Legal Services Consumer Panel for the study that it mentions and I know several others who were too.
I have had a great deal of conversation with solicitors and barristers whilst at court as well as court officials and there is generally a positive reaction. Most of the solicitors and barristers I have worked with have been professional and courteous and happy to work with me to come to orders by consent and for me to prepare draft orders to be put before the court.
During my conversations bad McKenzie Friends have come up - like the ones described in that link. I've picked up the pieces from clients who have dealt with them too. I provide a CV and a McKenzie letter that confirms I understand what I can and can't do and that is made clear to my clients before they become my clients.
I fully understand that a McKenzie Friend is not an equivalent to a solicitor or barrister although they can perform many of the similar functions. I think McKenzie Friends do have a role to play and do my best to help.
I don't think it's correct to say that the Law Society or BSB could have ensured that this MF was prosecuted. They have power to deal with people who pretend to be solicitors or barristers, but none in relation to MF. This is where an MF regulatory body would be helpful, because it could act in the same way. Just as the Law Society can take action against someone who pretends to be a solicitor, so an MF regulator could take action against someone pretending to be an MF. Without a regulator, there's nothing to stop this sort of person setting up.
lostdad - I think it is essential to improve relationships between MF and lawyers because I am already seeing the knock on effect of the legal aid cuts and the enormous difficulties of trying to work with litigants in person who, unsurprisingly are initially very suspicious of me as an agent for the other side.
I was told yesterday to stop writing in my my notebook by a LIP because I was trying to 'slaughter' her in court. I had to point out that I was trying to do everyone a favour by making sure I had an accurate note of what we were saying. It would have been so much easier to have been having this discussion with an MF who - hopefully- would have understood why I needed to write things down and there was nothing suspicious about it.
I am very angry that this Government has simply cut off funding avenues for people to get legal help with apparently no thought whatsoever about what is available to fill the gaps. There is a real risk the unscrupulous or the well meaning but misguided will rush to fill those gaps.
I wrote an article yesterday about an adoption case where it took arguments from two QCs in front of the Court of Appeal before the correct procedural route for an application was identified. If we are going to reduce people's access to legal help, we have to ensure laws are understandable...
Wow, lostdad saying 50% of solicitors and barrister break their own rules! That's quite a claim. Why risk a decades long career and years of hard study to pass exams to get struck off? It just does not really make sense that half of all lawyers would risk that. I don't think I've ever broken a professional rule.
If MFs were regulated then there would be a formal approved list. And a fraudster, not appearing on the list, could be rapidly identified by a potential client. If someone tells me they are a doctor, I can check the GMC website. If someone tells me they are a MF I have to take their word for it.
This looks like a straightforward theft/fraud which the police should be interested in. If the person had drafted and lodged court documents it is very likely to be an offence under the Legal Services Act (s14, as they would be providing litigation services which is a reserved service and so cannot be provided by a McKenzie Friend or an impersonator of McK friends.
I would also advise writing to the SRA, LeO (the Legal Services Ombudsman) and the Legal Services Consumer Panel with the website address if the site is still up. They may or may not be able to help, but they should be made aware of this as an example of a problem.
Jane Parker - I'll give you a concrete example. Of all the final hearings I have ever been involved I have only been involved in one that didn't involve the other party acting to frustrate bundle preparation in some shape or form.
Amongst other things this has included refusing to prepare one, excluding all the evidence of the other party, excluding parts of the evidence of the other party, ignoring deadlines, producing documents to suggest the litigant in person is at fault, ignoring the LIP completely and submitting bundles to the court. And much more.
Truth be told I expect this so I tend to advise my clients not to focus on this sort of thing. It makes no difference if the above is undertaken as a result of malice, incompetence or a combination of both because you're there to argue the case of the best interests of the child and not the motivations of a `professional' who has ignored Practice Direction, SRA guidelines, Resolution guidelines, etc.
As such as a matter of course I assist my clients to produce their own bundles. It's the only way to guarantee they will have evidence in chief to support their argument. Yes, the risk is that the court will be distinctly unamused by having to juggle two bundles but in my experience the risk that failing to do so and turning up for a contested hearing with nothing to support your arguments is far greater.
I have met a great many solicitors and barristers I have the utmost respect for - good, intelligent and incisive people who have clearly done the best for their clients. I've also met others who I would describe in a somewhat different manner.
I would like to think that my conduct in court is borne out by the the reception I have received in my work. I have been commended by the court, narrowed issues with the other party' representation to the point of being able to avoid contested hearings, drafted orders at the court's request and had rights of audience in courts at various levels.
As for using McKenzie Friends - as I have said before, if they are regulated to the same standard lawyers are I'd have little faith in any such scheme. Whether you are using a solicitor, barrister or McKenzie Friend any client should be ready to ask for references, a CV and ask about their background before engaging their services.
Hi all, just a quick update for you, i never got my money back from the scammer, i refuse to call him a mckenzie friend as i feel this would be an insult to to genuine mckenzie friends out there who help people! I have been keeping my eye on him and can see that he is now conning people out of money for kids parties. The fact that he was arrested last year has not deterred him one bit. I know certain agencies are underfunded and maybe understaffed but when will this end? Will he ever be punished for causing so much misery?
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