Your Questions Answered

On this page you will find a list of the questions most commonly asked by clients and those who are considering engaging our services.  Periodically we will be adding new questions to the list so you may find it useful to re-visit this page from time to time.

Q1.   Are you practising as lawyers?

A1.   No, we are not practising as lawyers. However, there are two partners in County Legal Support Services LLP.  One of the Partners is a qualified barrister and practised in barristers' chambers before helping to found County Legal Support Services LLP.  His colleague and co-founder of County Legal Support Services LLP has extensive County Court experience as a litigant in person when employed in private business, as well as having acted as a McKenzie Friend on numerous occasions.

Q2.   Do you offer the same service as that of a solicitor?

A2.   Whilst we offer many similar services to those of a solicitor, for example, drafting letters, completing court forms and tendering advice, unlike a solicitor, the law does not permit us to conduct litigation or represent a client at court, unless there are exceptional circumstances.  This means that we do not run a case for you (conduct litigation), as a solicitor might, nor can we speak on your behalf at court.  What we can do is draft material for your approval and attend court with you and give quiet advice during a hearing.  As you are the litigant in person everything is done in your name and under your signature and not that of County Legal Support Services LLP.  All correspondence is sent to you and you remain in control of your case.

Q3.   You say that you cannot conduct litigation.  What is litigation and why can it not be conducted by you?

A3.   Litigation is the process by which two or more parties resolve a legal dispute.  This may be by negotiation between them or by the matter being determined in court.  The law only permits this to be done by the parties themselves (litigants in person) or specific authorised representatives (such as solicitors).  McKenzie Friends are not so authorised.  However, the law does allow McKenzie Friends to advise and assist a litigant in person.  What McKenzie Friends cannot do is act as the litigant in person's representative, either out of court or in court, unless the court has given its permission.  This is done on rare occasions only, when there are specific reasons for this to happen.

Q4.   Are you regulated in any way?

A4.   There is no formal regulatory body for McKenzie Friends.  However, all McKenzie Friends must adhere to guidance issued on 12th July 2010 by the Master of the Rolls and President of the Family Division.  Furthermore, both partners of County Legal Support Services LLP are members of the voluntary body, the Society of Professional McKenzie Friends, and abide by its code of conduct.

Q5.   Are you insured?

A5.   Yes, partners of County Legal Support Services LLP are both covered by professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance.

Q6.   Why are your fees much lower than those of solicitors and barristers - is it because you provide a lesser service?

A6.   It would be fair to say that we provide a more limited service than solicitors and barristers, but not a lesser one.  Whilst we have legal training and practical experience we cannot conduct litigation or represent clients in court without express permission, which is granted only rarely.  All court correspondence or correspondence with the other party in a case is sent by and received by, the client, as opposed to being handled in the first instance by County Legal Support Services LLP, as would be the case if we were acting in the same way as would a solicitor.  Also, our overheads are lower than those of solicitors and barristers.  For example, we have no building rent to pay, have no practising certificate fees to pay and have no obligation to conduct annual continuous professional development training, which has to be paid for.  Furthermore, we do not require an extensive administration to support our work.  For these reasons our fees are lower than those of solicitors and barristers.

Q7.   Do you offer assistance to people in criminal cases or family cases?

A7.   No, we do not handle criminal cases or family cases.

Q8.   Do you assist both claimants and defendants?

A8.   Yes, we are able to assist any claimant or defendant who is a litigant in person.  This could be an individual, a sole trader or small firm.

Q9.   When my case is finished, what happens to papers and any other material I have sent you?

A9.   When your case has finished or when you are no longer being assisted by County Legal Support Services LLP all papers and any other material you have sent us will be returned to you following receipt of our fee.  Whilst papers and material are in the custody of County Legal Support Services LLP they are held securely.  County Legal Support Services LLP is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and complies with the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

Q10.   Do I have to pay any money upfront before you will assist me?

A10.   No, we do not ask for any money to be paid upfront.  All fees are invoiced at the conclusion of a case or when County Legal Support Services LLP is no longer assisting you.  The only occasion on which we might ask for payment in advance could be for travelling expenses or accommodation expenses if we had to attend court with you and this was a significant distance for us to travel - perhaps necessitating an overnight stay.  If this was the case we would always seek your agreement first.

Q11.   What happens if I use your services and then decide to continue with the case myself or instruct a solicitor?

A11.   You are free to cease using County Legal Support Services LLP at any time.  We ask only that this be confirmed in writing (an email would cover this).  We would then send you an invoice for the work done up to that point and any papers or other material you had sent us would be returned to you on receipt of our fee.

Q12.   If I win my case at court am I allowed to claim the costs of engaging you from the other side?

A12.   Normally this is not permitted.  The only occasions you may be able to claim from the other party some of the costs of engaging a McKenzie Friend is if the court has granted us the right to conduct litigation on your behalf or a right of audience - that is the right to represent you and speak for you in court.

Q13.   How long does it take to complete a case?

A13.   This is impossible to answer in a general way.  Much depends on the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved.  If a dispute is resolved by negotiation this often means that matters can be concluded more speedily than when a court is involved.  Once a case is in the court system then all parties have to follow the timetable as laid down by the court.

Q14.   If I have asked for advice, which you have provided, do I have to use you at any subsequent court hearing?

A14.   No.  When County Legal Support Services LLP has completed any piece of work agreed upon, you are free to continue to use us, or not, as you wish.

Q15.   Can you write letters to the other side and negotiate with them on my behalf?

A15.   No, we are not permitted to do this.  We can draft letters for you or suggest negotiating lines you may wish to take but we cannot represent you in the same way as would a solicitor or barrister.  Any letters that we draft must be sent out by you under your signature.  You are, of course, free to adopt or amend any work that we might prepare for you.

Q16.   If I discuss my case with you, either on the telephone or via email and then do not ask you to assist me at court or produce any written work, do I have to pay for this?

A16.   The first 15 minutes of any work we do is free.  This covers discussing your case and possibly giving brief advice in a straightforward matter.  After 15 minutes a fee is charged at our standard rate, which is £48.00 per hour, broken down into 15 minute increments.

Q17.   If I send papers to you for you to consider whether or not you can help me, will you charge me for reading them even if, having read them, you decide that you cannot assist me?

A17.   Yes, after the first 15 minutes of time spent reading your papers we would charge at our standard rate, which is £48.00 per hour, broken down into 15 minute increments.  Your papers would be returned to you on receipt of our fee.

Last updated:  06/10/2016