Time to curb the personal litigant

The increasing cost of litigation and the proposed draconian reforms to the UK's legal aid system are forcing many citizens to either abandon legal action altogether, or – increasingly commonly – encouraging them to take the hazardous but rather less costly route of becoming a personal litigant.

As the courts system is likely to witness more personal litigants and their McKenzie Friends, particularly in the family courts, the throughput of cases will be reduced, thereby doubly frustrating legal professionals and the judiciary, who will have to tolerate these impecunious, inexperienced amateurs.

Does the Court and Legal Services Act (1990) now need to be amended to curb the growth of this unwelcome phenomenon, or does Lord Tenderden's dictum in Collier v Hicks (1831) that: "Any person, whether he be a professional man or not, may attend a trial as a friend of either party, may take notes, and may quietly make suggestions and not give advice to that party," guarantee the existence of the McKenzie Friend in perpetuity?

Thomas Downey, Newry