DEFINITION OF A ‘Litigant in Person Assistant'
In family and civil life, there are more litigants in person (LIPs), i.e. those who cannot afford a Solicitor or Barrister, and who need advice, and who need help in court and during proceedings.
Due to consumer demand and need, and the emergence of more fee-charging non-Solicitor/non-Barrister legal service providers who have a broad range of knowledge and expertise, the definition of ‘McKenzie Friend’, referred to in the 2010 Guidance on McKenzie Friends, is no longer fit for purpose, as it does not accurately reflect consumer demand and needs, nor describe the diverse legal service providers in the market place.
Helpers who provide LIPs with a very wide range of advice and assistance in and out of court, can now more accurately be described as a ‘Litigant in Person Assistant’. This modern ‘Assistant’ may or may not charge for their services. They may or may not have qualifications in law. They may or may not have under graduate or post graduate degrees. They may or may not belong to a regulatory body. They may or may not work for a company, charity, society or community organisation. They may or may not be insured. They may or may not be experienced in helping LIPs.
To protect yourself, you should go online and research the Assistant by reviewing their business website to see if it has a complaints policy, client feedback, and if they are insured. See if they are well known by reviewing their LinkedIn site and other sites they appear on. See if they are well known by reviewing Google, Yahoo and other leading search engines.
Nevertheless, the modern LIP Assistant may provide information, guidance, support and legal advice, and assist and organize the LIP, whether the LIP is involved in court proceedings or not, unless the work they are asked to do is a ‘reserved activity’ under the Legal Services Act.
Judges can be asked to give the LIP permission for their Assistant to speak for the LIP in court or do a broader range of tasks for them out of court.
The Legal Services Act will need to be reformed in due course to reflect the diverse market place and the demands and needs of LIPs.