New practice directions to clarify role of McKenzie friends

New practice directions will be issued by the presidents of the Court of Appeal and High Court to clarify the role of a non-legal person assisting a lay litigant, The Irish Times reports.

The new directions, to be introduced from Sunday 1 October, will tighten up rules around so-called “McKenzie friends”.

It is hoped the new rules will clamp down on advisers without legal training charging fees to lay litigants by highlighting that the Solicitors Act 1954 makes it an offence for an unqualified person to draw or prepare a document relating to a legal proceeding for a fee or reward.

Civil law barrister Andrew Robinson told The Irish Times that the new rules were positive and would not impede “well-meaning McKenzie friends, offering support that is honestly given”.

Mr Robinson said he was concerned that some pseudo-legal advisers were giving “useless or damaging” advice.

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