Permission granted for McKenzie Friend to attend court with mother

The mother of a child in the care of the Child and Family Agency obtained the permission of the court to bring a McKenzie Friend to court to assist her and take notes of the proceedings. She had brought the application ex parte (without notifying the CFA or the guardian ad litem).

The judge noted that the mother has instructed two sets of solicitors but dismissed them both. She was now representing herself. She wanted the McKenzie Friend to attend with her in court to record and make notes of the proceedings. She said it was very difficult to listen to all the evidence and make notes at the same time.

The judge told her that a McKenzie Friend had no right of audience in the court which meant the friend could not speak to the court on her behalf. He also warned the mother that she should not rely on a McKenzie friend for legal advice. He said that the McKenzie Friend would be bound by the in-camera rule. The identified friend would not be allowed to discuss the matter outside of the court and could not reveal anything they had heard in court. The mother said she was aware of the restrictions and wanted her to attend for note taking only.

The judge granted the application to the mother to have a McKenzie Friend and lifted the in-camera rule to allow the Friend to attend court on the next hearing date.