Since I met victims of white collar crimes who came to meetings of the Forum for Stable Currencies in Westminster, I’ve learned that we have three battle fronts:
- the victims of white collar crimes and criminals;
- their hope to get justice as Litigants in Person (LiPs) who ‘do it alone’, because they had terrible experiences with lawyers and / or courts or other ‘professionals’;
- as McKenzie Friends who are also referred to as ‘Friend of the Court’ or ‘amicus curiae’ in the US or ‘Litigant Friend’:
- due to being threatened with an unspecified prosecution in a secret family court, I had to flee UK jurisdiction after I had helped the mother of the two whistleblower kids which has caused tremendous financial distress and personal injury, resulting in the current threat of imprisonment after an arrest without Search or Arrest warrant – by forcing entry into my flat after midnight; next hearing in Blackfriars Court on 07 April as the Ham and High reports, albeit not accurately of course;
- we were threatened with paying ‘costs’ when we tried to prevent US mother Melissa Laird from being deported, while her son has been kept in the ‘care’ of Barnet Council;
- we won against the Treasury Solicitors’ Office – now named Government Legal Department – by hiring this excellent Public Law barrister who saw that the reputation and credibility of McKenzie Friends were at stake.
This report by the Legal Services Consumer Panel [note the commercial implication!] about fee-charging McKenzie Friends states that only 6% of the public know about them.
Thanks to Help 4 LiPs, I learned about this 36-page consultation by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales: Reforming the Courts’ Approach to McKenzie Friends.
Belinda McKenzie is a McKenzie Friend by name and by nature, especially in family courts. I had met lots of other victims turned starfighters who became McKenzie Friends for other victims, before I met Belinda.
When she suggested to form an Association of McKenzie Friends, I began to publish this site in February 2012, where we label ourselves as ‘public interest advocates‘. For the more individual cases we learned about, the better we could describe
Hence also our petition to the EU Parliament:
- Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent – retitled to Protect the Best Interest of the Child across Europe in EU Parliament and Council – since the Petitions Committee raised the debate after I presented the issue for the first time in March 2014.
Page 22 of the consultation paper contains 10 questions and I’m offering my ‘off the hip comments’:
Question 1: Do you agree that the term ‘McKenzie Friend’ should be replaced by a term that is more readily understandable and properly reflects the role in question?
- Belinda’s site has over 1,300 followers and had over 24,000 visitors;
- the McKenzie site has 2,000 followers and 74,000 visitors;
- the EU petition has over 5,600 signers;
- so we put a lot of time and effort into promoting the ‘brand’;
- when we came under threat not only of unspecified prosecution and imprisonment but also ‘costs’, we felt we needed ‘rebranding’ into McKenzie Angels.
Question 2: Do you agree that the term ‘court supporter’ should replace McKenzie Friend? If not, what other term would you suggest?
- LITIGANTS need support, not the courts!
- Friend IN or FOR the Court, maybe;
- but ‘Litigant Friend‘ would be the only other ‘reasonable’ alternative, methinks;
- ‘friends’ may also be ‘advocates’, but are always operating on behalf of the victim / litigant – as a bridge builder between bruised emotions and unintelligible language in unknown procedures and ‘remedies’.
Question 3: Do you agree that the present Practice Guidance should be replaced with rules of court?
- What difference would that make to either the victim turned litigant or the McKenzie Friend?
Question 4: Should different approaches to the grant of a right of audience apply in family proceedings and civil proceedings? Please give your reasons for your answer and outline the test that you believe should be applicable. Please also give any specific comments on the draft rules.
- Ah, now you’re talking!
- as McKenzie Friends we lifted the veil of secrecy of the family courts;
- Open family courts PROPERLY and TRULY and the need for McKenzie Friends individually and as Advocates in the Public Interest will disappear;
- what’s the big deal about ‘right of audience’?
- most victims needed documents to be written and find out what options they have and which ones are the most likely ones to achieve the desired result!
Question 5: Do you agree that a standard form notice, signed and verified by both the LiP and McKenzie Friend, should be used to ensure that sufficient information is given to the court regarding a McKenzie Friend?
- This would help, especially in outlining the three key rights:
- the right to reasonable assistance, i.e. to get help from anybody: page 6;
- the right to exercise rights of audience, i.e. to speak to the judge: page 15;
- the right to conduct litigation, which seems to be a no no: page 16;
- but the real ‘standard form’ required is a path through the maze of courts and court procedures.
Question 6: Do you agree that such a notice should contain a Code of Conduct for McKenzie Friends, which the McKenzie Friend should verify that they understand and agree to abide by?
- Codes of Conduct don’t guarantee ethics, morals and values of judges and court staff. That’s what created the need for McKenzie Friends!
Question 7: Irrespective of whether the Practice Guidance (2010) is to be revised or replaced by rules of court, do you agree that a Plain Language Guide for LIPs and McKenzie Friends be produced?
- any Plain Language Guide should set out REMEDIES and PROCEDURES;
- Help4LiPs would not have become necessary, if these were not as unwieldy as they are across different courts.
Question 8: If a Plain Language Guide is produced, do you agree that a non-judicial body with expertise in drafting such Guides should produce it?
- Most definitely!
Question 9: Do you agree that codified rules should contain a prohibition on fee recovery, either by way of disbursement or other form of remuneration?
- Money, money, money is more important than justice, eh?
- Shouldn’t justice be a PUBLIC SERVICE rather than a money making racket for the courts and the legal profession?
- Who pays for the use of the buildings?
- Why do insurance companies run the show, as illustrated by this Early Day Motion?
- But then we go back to the CAUSE of money as the root of all evil and a dishonest system, protected by the judiciary…
Question 10: Are there any other points arising from this consultation on that you would like to put forward for consideration?
- Teach people to THINK and to go to the ORIGIN or GENESIS of problems;
- Change the culture in private elite schools to avoid more explosions of abuse allegations!
- email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org;
or by post to:
- McKenzie Friends Consultation, Master of the Rolls’ Private Office, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.
The consultation opened on 25th February 2016 and closes on 19th May 2016.
The Public Interest Advocacy of the Association of McKenzie Friends is before the Petitions Committee of the EU Parliament and EU Council as:
- Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent [please sign to get updates!]
- Using the Secrecy of UK Family Courts to cover-up Criminal Activities
- Using Bail Conditions to Prevent Online Exposure of Organised Child Abuse in the UK [2 pages executive summary]
- Full 11-page report.