Updated: Aug 16
An open letter to parents and the Legal Services Board of England
Dear Parents and Legal Services Board,
I would like to bring to your attention the unjustified and unbalanced realities that we as your Paralegal McKenzie Friends, face while diligently executing our duties as the non-recognised Paralegal pillar of the English Legal system
Arguably I possibly have more experience and skills in Family Law than many Junior solicitors / newly qualified Barristers whom the opposite party hires and is represented by. However, despite being a Fellow Member of NALP (National Association Of Licensed Paralegals) we are, usually, over 90% of the time NOT allowed the much-required Right of Audience.
Some factual and most unjust examples that I can quote from many are:
a. I was assisting a Father who did not speak English well and struggled to form even the most basic English sentences.
b. Mother was represented by a Solicitor
c. The opposite party solicitor did not have an objection to the Right of Audience being granted
d. A written request for Grant of Audience (along with my CV) was made available but the Court denied me the Right Of Audience and I had to write (as fast as I could) for the Father to read what was to be argued. This is one of many examples of unjust treatment that often bleeds inequality of legal representation into the case of our clients.
In brief, Mother was represented, and as it was my client’s first time in magistrate court, he was very nervous and physically shaking as he looked at the three Magistrates along with the Legal Advisor & secretary sitting in Birmingham court.
a. I was assisting aged Grandparents (Grandfather nearing 80) who did not speak English well and struggle to form effective English sentences in the courtroom.
b. Mother was represented by a Barrister
c. The opposite party’s Barristers opening submission was an objection to the Right of Audience being granted, which the grandparents had prior applied for in writing.
d. The written request for Grant of Audience (along with my CV) was made but the Court denied me the Right Of Audience
e. Grandfather gave up after requesting at least 3 times verbally that as a 79-year-old senior citizen who has never even been in English courts before, is nervous and his first language is not English, he should be allowed the benefit of Right of Audience for his McKenzie (me).
However, the Judge refused permission to grant the McKenzie Friend the right of Audience and repetitively refused, without even pausing to consider the negative effects it would have to the case and my clients.
The guidelines do say that in exceptional circumstances Right of Audience should be granted, but it was not.
These refusals to right of audience risks to be seen as discriminatory prejudgments on the abilities of NALP certified Paralegals such as myself.r
A Litigant in Person who has never been in English courts before, is nervous and his first language is not English, he/she should be allowed the benefit of Right of Audience for his McKenzie.
There are dozens of such examples, but I found it apt to mention at least two to show a sample of what we experienced Paralegals face on the field while in Courts.
It is time that the Litigat in Persons fighting to see their children are not priced out of the Justice System.
The usual treatment (mistreatment) by the Courts and so-called regulated Solicitors and Barristers are such that I feel like closing down my Paralegal and McKenzie friend operations, but then it is my clients and what they say (www.incourt.co.uk/reviews) that keeps me from shutting shop. I am one of the few for whom the Paralegals income is not the main source of income, and thus I am able to say ‘as it is’ voicing my thoughts honestly and frankly.
Vik firstname.lastname@example.org www.incourt.co.uk 07375757523