January 19, 2020

Why unqualified advisors dishing out biased views should be banned

A study highlighting that McKenzie Friends – non-professional helpers or advisors to litigants – are providing ‘worrying’ advice which is biased against courts and solicitors reinforces the need for them to be banned.  

The findings from Leeds Law School and Birmingham City University reveal that the unqualified advisors have advised people to ignore or act against the advice of their lawyers, describing family courts as ‘gender-biased’ and a ‘disgrace’.

As a regulated, highly experienced and established family law firm we have previously expressed our concerns that the rising number of McKenzie Friends – many of whom charge feesfor advising people who represent themselves in court – will increase the risk of negligence claims.     

Unregulated and non-professional helpers or advisors to litigants, the Friends, while not allowed to represent litigants, sit with them while they present their case in court. This is often because litigants cannot afford the services of experienced family lawyers.  

Jones Myers founder, Peter Jones, attributes the increased use of McKenzie Friends to the withdrawal of legal aid and says no-one would choose to self-litigate unless they are forced to by circumstances.

Said Peter: “Litigation is a traumatic event and it is always advisable to have someone qualified and objective who has a breadth and depth of expertise in such an important and sensitive area as family law.

“While known and trusted friends of the litigant who are objective and give good counsel can be helpful, the survey found that online advisers often delivered biased suggestions reflecting personal anti-court and anti-social services views.

“These revelations highlight the urgency of ensuring a regulated environment to protect vulnerable people because at the moment there is no control or recourse for litigants if it all goes horribly wrong.”

Having solicitors who are experienced and knowledgeable in family law is vital to resolving conflict fairly and with minimum stress.

For information about any aspect of family law, call our Leeds office on 0113 246 0055, our Harrogate office on 01423 276104 or our York office on 01904 202550. You can also visit jm2023.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce