Get ready for exploitation by McKenzie friends if small claims limit goes up, says APIL

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has warned that the judiciary should be prepared for thousands of extra litigants-in-person who may be exploited by McKenzie friends should the Government increase the small claims limit to £5,000.

In a response to a call from the Judiciary on how to manage McKenzie friends, the association has said that the sector could see similar increases in litigants-in-person as those seen in family law following legal aid reforms in 2013. These led to a 30% rise in unrepresented parties.

The Law Society Gazette has reported APIL saying that some unregulated fee-charging McKenzie friends would probably exploit an influx of potential new clients. “The problems experienced with McKenzie friends in family cases will simply be repeated in the personal injury sector,” said APIL.

“We are concerned that, unchecked, “professional” McKenzie friends would essentially become an unregulated arm of the legal profession, ripe to exploit the inevitable increase in personal injury litigants,” added the body.

It said that removing the ability of McKenzie friends to charge money for their services would “go a long way to removing” the predicted problem.