McKenzie Friends Could Be Integrated Into Family Courts Under New Guidelines


A way forward? We hope it’s a step in the right direction.

Researching Reform

A newly published report looking at ways to protect vulnerable witnesses in private family law proceedings suggests closer collaboration between judges and McKenzie friends could offer a solution to the current problems.

The document, which was prepared by Family Law researchers at the Ministry of Justice, outlines several ways to protect vulnerable witnesses likely to be cross examined directly in court by their alleged abusers:

  • Making public funding available to provide the vulnerable party with an advocate
  • Greater support from judges, including relaying questions to the vulnerable witness on the alleged abuser’s behalf
  • Creating an inquisitorial system where judges are fully trained to deal with the issues involved
  • Strengthening links between the judiciary, the courts, and external organisations like McKenzie Friends and the Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • Producing a ‘Vulnerability’ assessment to best address the individual needs of each witness in a private family law case

The report also has some interesting…

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