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20 AUG 2008

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE: Re N; Re Children Act 1989, s 8; A v G [2008] EWHC 2042 (Fam)

(Family Division; Munby J; 20 August 2008)

A McKenzie friend did not have a right of audience and the court's discretion to grant a McKenzie friend a right of audience was to be granted 'only . . . for good reason' and in the light of and bearing in mind the 'general objective' set out in Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, s 17(1) and the 'general principle' set out in s 17(3). Moreover, the court should be 'very slow' to grant a McKenzie friend a right of audience. However, that did not mean that, as a general principle, a right of audience could be granted only in 'exceptional circumstances'. All would depend on the circumstances. The overriding objective was that the courts should do justice. The court had to bear in mind that legal aid was not as readily available as readily as it had been in the past. There would be occasions when the grant of rights of audience to a McKenzie friend would be of advantage to the court in ensuring the litigant in person received a fair hearing, and it would sometimes be essential if justice were to be done and, equally importantly, perceived by the litigant in person as having been done.

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