Both the Legal Services Board (LSB) and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have come out against a total ban on fee charging for McKenzie Friends. In its response to a Judicial Executive Board consultation, the LSB’s chief exec Neil Buckley said that they were ‘not convinced that the case has been made for an outright ban on fee charging McKenzie Friends. He said: ‘We know from our 2016 individual legal needs survey that 64% of consumers with a legal problem do not seek independent assistance in dealing with it. In this context, any moves to restrict consumers’ choices should be targeted and based on evidence of detriment.’
Buckley said that the consultation paper did not properly explain why a ban was ‘necessary, what harm the ban would address or what the consequences of the ban might be for consumers’.
The SRA was also ‘unconvinced’ of need for a ban. ‘A blanket fee prohibition means litigants in person may not get access to support, even where there are no quality issues,’ the watchdog said. ‘For example, it would limit the ability of charities to charge a small amount to cover their costs. The fee prohibition would also be difficult to enforce and would be easy to circumvent.’
The SRA pointed out that more than eight out of 10 people (81%) found the justice system intimidating and close to two thirds (63% ) did not believe professional legal advice is affordable.
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