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3. Suggested Code of Practice for McKenzies

Our proposal for a possible code of practice to be adopted by McKenzie Friends.

We think a good McKenzie should:

1. Not take on your case if he has any involvement or interest in it;

2. Explain to you his interest in and experience of the family courts, both as a litigant and as a McKenzie Friend;

3. Provide a brief CV for you and for the Court – if he is a regular McKenzie or is receiving payment for the service the Court will want to be informed, though I’m not convinced any financial agreement between you and your McKenzie is the Court’s business;

4. Explain his availability and the time he can give to your case;

5. Advise you against taking the option of litigation other than as a last resort.  He should help you explore other options such as mediation provided that it does not introduce delay;

6. Inform you before you start how he wants to be paid – most will expect their expenses to be covered but some will charge a fee;

7. Explain all the options available to you, with their advantages and pitfalls;

8. Encourage you to seek advice from other sources, including the CAB, online forums, pro bono services, etc.;

9. Help you present your case and formulate your argument;

10. Promote the pioneering principle of therapeutic mediation;

11. Focus on what is in the best interests of the child rather than of the parent he is assisting.  He should never assist a parent to do something unethical or illegal;

12. Not approach the other party or communicate with them in any way – that is your job;

13. Take care to present the family justice system to you as it is and not in any idealised form; he should be honest about your chances of success;

14. Never guarantee an outcome as solicitors do – the Family Courts are always unpredictable;

15. Not use your case to further a campaign;

16. Not question every single minor technicality.

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