Thursday, May 7, 2009


Earlier this afternoon Margo MacDonald (Independent) asked the Scottish Executive whether it will introduce the practice of allowing a McKenzie’s Friend into Scottish courts. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said already a person may be accompanied a friend, relative or lay person in small claims and summary causes sheriff's courts. One thing that differentiates Scotland from England & Wales, he continued, is the wider and broader access to legal aid allowing greater opportunity for representation. Lord Gill's upcoming Civil Courts Review will consider McKenzie Friends and the wider issues of those representing themselves .

This followed consideration by the Public Petition Committee on Tuesday of petition PE1247 by Stewart Mackenzie calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce a McKenzie Friend facility in Scottish courts as a matter of urgency. 'Charmer' Robin Harper (Green) thought it common sense and suggested asking the Scottish Government directly if it will introduce McKenzie Friends and if not, why not. It had been agreed to write to the Scottish Government, Faculty of Advocates, Lord President of the Court of Session, Her Majesty’s Courts Service, Scottish Courts Service, Citizens Advice Scotland , Money Advice Scotland and the Scottish Consumer Council seeking responses to the points raised in the petition.

Nigel Don (SNP) made the point McKenzie Friends were not something introduced by Government, it was something which the courts in England & Wales simply allowed. Bill Butler MSP, I think it was, asks a novel question - what evidence is there McKenzie Friends work?


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