Who can act as a legal representative in the County Court

Permitted legal representatives depend on the type of court and proceedings, and the parties may speak for themselves in all courts.

This content applies to England & Wales

County Court

In addition to solicitors or barristers, a party can be represented in the County Court, by:

  • an authorised person from a local authority in local authority possession proceedings

  • a 'McKenzie friend' (someone who can assist and advise a 'litigant in person' in court)

  • a lay advocate with permission of the court

  • legal executives (in private hearings only)

The County Court has an inherent jurisdiction to allow any person to speak on behalf of a party on a case-by-case basis, or a general basis for certain types of cases.

The Lord Chancellor has the power to make orders providing for unrestricted rights of audience in a number of types of cases.[1] Currently, orders have been made in relation to small claims arbitrations only. 

Solicitors are less likely to be involved with small claims arbitration as legal aid is usually unavailable.

County Court help desks and duty schemes

Some County Courts have help desks staffed by advice agencies and/or duty solicitors who are available to help a defendant who is unrepresented. These are most commonly available where housing possession cases are to be heard. 

Information about duty schemes should be available from the court clerk who can also introduce a defendant to the duty representative before the hearing.

High Court

In the High Court, only barristers or solicitors with higher court advocacy rights may appear in open court (although solicitors without advocacy rights can appear in unopposed applications). In private hearings, any legal representative can appear.

Tribunals

In tribunals any representative may appear. Lay advocates commonly represent clients in tribunal hearings.

Further information on litigants in person

Advicenow has published a series of guides for people who are going to court or a tribunal without the help of a lawyer. One of the guides covers hearings, tribunals and appeals.

Last updated: 22 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.11 Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.