If you find this site useful, please donate to support our work
Subscribe

Get our latest news by email:

Search

Looking for something?

Find news about...
shared parenting (52) research (24) Parental Alienation (23) child support (16) consultation (15) contact (14) fundraising (14) family law (10) Scottish Parliament (9) bar reports (8) courts (8) CSA (8) legislation (8) AGM (7) child maintenance (7) CMEC (7) legal aid (7) party litigant (7) shared care (7) child protection (6) contact orders (6) Court (6) Court reform (6) domestic violence (6) false allegations (6) fathers (6) FNF Scotland (6) lay assistant (6) parental involvement (6) parental rights (6) relocation (6) contempt of court (5) divorce (5) family courts (5) family research (5) Father's Day (5) leave to remove (5) male victims of domestic violence (5) mediation (5) parenting (5) Parenting Apart (5) school information (5) Scottish family law (5) absent fathers (4) conference (4) education (4) enforcement (4) England (4) English family courts (4) family law reform (4) family law reform (4) funding (4) Hague Convention (4) high conflict disputes (4) ICSP (4) judgements (4) legal (4) McKenzie Friend (4) parenting strategy (4) Public petitions Committee (4) schools (4) Scottish courts (4) Scottish Government (4) social work (4) sponsored events (4) sweden (4) training (4) unmarried fathers (4) abduction (3) child support (3) children resisting contact (3) children's rights (3) children's views (3) Christmas (3) consultation response (3) court rules (3) Cross-border issues (3) domestic abuse (3) education in Scotland (3) education law (3) Equal Parents (3) Families Need Fathers Scotland (3) FNFS (3) gill review (3) involving fathers (3) lay representation (3) maintenance (3) PA (3) Parental Alienation (3) School involvement (3) separation (3) Sheriff Court (3) shred parenting (3) SLAB (3) sshared parenting (3) summary sheriffs (3) supporting fathers (3) survey (3) surveys (3) Tough Mudder (3) tv (3) 10k (2) Aileen Campbell (2) Australia (2) bedroom tax (2) breach of the peace (2) charging (2) child development (2) child maintenance reform (2) Child Welfare Reports (2) children (2) children's minister (2) civil court reform (2) CMS (2) complaints (2) contact centre (2) court delay (2) Court of Session (2) court reports (2) cross border (2) Cross Border cases (2) Dads Rock (2) debate (2) DWP (2) ECHR (2) edinburgh Men's 10k (2) England and Wales (2) English family law (2) Equal Opportunities Commitee (2) events (2) Family Justice Review (2) Family Mediation (2) fatherhood (2) film (2) Fundraising (2) GIRFEC (2) Glasgow (2) grandparents (2) habitual residence (2) holiday contact (2) Holyrood event (2) international abuction (2) international child abduction (2) interviews (2) Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 (2) ISCP (2) Japan (2) Justice Committee (2) Karen Woodall (2) law reform (2) local groups (2) Louis de Bernières (2) Malin Bergstrom (2) Mens 10k (2) Minnesota (2) national parenting strategy (2) new partners (2) Nicholas Bala (2) Nick Child (2) non-resident fathers (2) non-resident parents (2) overnights (2) Pakistan (2) Parental Alienation Awareness Day (2) parenting courses (2) parenting information (2) parenting support (2) party litigants (2) Penelope Leach (2) relationship support (2) relationships (2) Relationships Scotland (2) reports (2) Safeguarders (2) Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act (2) seminar (2) shared residence (2) SLCC (2) sponsorship (2) statistics (2) student intern (2) Supreme Court (2) Switzerland (2) TV coverage (2) videos (2) Warshak (2) welfare reform (2) year of the dad (2)
Facebook

Entries in lay assistant (6)

Monday
Oct102016

‘Lay Assistant’ free training course to run in Edinburgh in November.

Families Need Fathers Scotland is recruiting for a ‘lay assistant’ free training course to run in Edinburgh in November.

As the number of party litigants appears to be increasing steadily in family law actions FNF Scotland has been aware of the importance of the support and steadying influence a lay assistant can have both in court and before court in keeping focus on the important issues at hand.

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell, says, “We ran a successful pilot course in Glasgow last month, introducing prospective lay assistant volunteers to the role they can play and the support they can give. We are clear that they’re not surrogate solicitors and aren’t there to give legal advice. But they are there to assist the party litigant - and the court - by taking notes of what is said during proceedings and keeping track of any documents that may be referred to during a child welfare hearing or, more crucially, during a proof.

There has been more use of lay assistants in other areas of civil litigation such as debt or housing but we have noticed the increased number of people who are opting to represent themselves in contact and residence cases. They do for a variety of reasons but the main one is that they find their earnings are just above the SLAB threshold but aren't enough to cope with legal fees that can quickly turn into thousands.”

Depending on demand the course will run over two sessions in mid November and includes presentations by FNF Scotland staff and family law solicitors, video simulations and role play. The training is free, funded by the Scottish Government's Volunteering Support Fund. Further courses will be run in Aberdeen and Stirling in early 2017.

Ian Maxwell says, “Our overall aim is a review of family law to reduce the adversarial nature of resolving arrangements for parenting of children after separation. We always advise negotiation or mediation rather than litigation. In the meantime we can’t ignore the rising number of party litigants and this training is aimed at helping them present their case as efficiently and effectively as possible in the interests not only of the court but in the interests of the children involved.

Anyone interest in signing up for the training should contact Alastair Williamson or ring 0131 557 2440.

Wednesday
Mar132013

Lay representatives get a voice in Sheriff courts from April

New Sheriff Court rules allowing an accompanying person to speak on behalf of someone who is representing him or herself in court come into force on April 4th 2013

This change, which has already been made ace in the Court of Session, brings Scotland closer to the "Mckenzie Friend" arrangement which has been possible in the English courts for many years. 

It doesn't mean that non-lawyers will have unrestricted scope to act in court, but it will help in situations where people representing themselves (party litigants) find it difficult to speak up because of lack of confidence, strong emotions,  lack of understanding of the court process/terminology or other reasons.

The lay representative will have to ask the Sheriff's permission at the start of the hearing and sign a form.  They will be allowed to attend family court hearings which are closed to the public, but have to agree to keep the details of the case and court papers confidential.  They cannot accept any payment for carrying out this function.

Sheriffs will only grant the request if they consider that it would assist their consideration of the case, and other parties to the case can raise objections.

Families Need Fathers Scotland will monitor how this change operates in the Sheriff Courts.  We will write to all Sheriff Principals asking for consideration of the sort of issues which we know already occur in English courts with Mckenzie Friends. 

When the Sheriff Court rules changed to allow lay assistants, we came across Sheriffs who were not aware of this change, so we will stress the importance of all courts and all Sheriffs understanding the new arrangements from the outset. 

We still recommend people to have a lawyer with them in court if they can, but welcome this change which will help some of people who cannot afford a lawyer or are not represented for other reasons.

Our "Guide to Representing Yourself in the Scottish Family Courts" will be revised shortly to include these changes.

Monday
Jul232012

Lay assistants get rights to speak in court

  Lay assistants who accompany people who represent themselves in Scottish courts gained new rights in July when the Court of Session adopted rules introduced by the Legal Services Act allowing lay assistants to address the court. 

This will not give lay assistants the right to cross-examine witnesses at a proof hearing, but it does add significantly to their existing role.  Until now, they have been limited to helping with court papers, taking notes and giving whispered advice to the person who is conducting his or her own case.

Due to continuing debate about other aspects of these changes, the Sheriff Court rules have not yet been modified to include thsi change. 

As the necessary legislation has already been enacted, Families Need Fathers Scotland has asked whether it would be unjust to refuse a lay assistant in the Sheriff Court the right to address the court, and we would be keen to hear from anyone who has been affected by this delay.

Lay assistants are sometimes referred to as "McKenzie Friends" because the original English court case concerned a divorce action by a Mr McKenzie who found himself without a lawyer due to withdrawal of legal aid. Our Guide To Representing Yourself in the Scottish Court gives further details of the Scottish system.

Thursday
Sep012011

FNF Scotland submits views on lay representation in court

Scottish courts should make it easier and simpler for people to represent themselves in family cases, and it should be possible for their non-legally qualified helpers (lay assistants) to speak up in court as well as offering whispered advice.

These points are made in a submission by Families Need fathers Scotland to a consultation on lay representation in the Court of Session and Sheriff Courts.  These views will be considered by a working group chaired by Lord Pentland.

In making the case for simpler and more permissive procedures, we suggest that various factors including the reduced availability of legal aid will lead to increased amounts of self representation in the Scottish Courts. 

The new rules should be consistent across all civil courts including any new courts arising from the implementation of the Gill review in coming years.

Our submission includes mention of how Mckenzie Friends operate in English and Welsh courts, where it is not unusual for them to be allowed to address the court, particularly when the person they are supporting is not confident or articulate.   

In support of this being allowed in Scotland, we mention the situation in which a parent has to be cross-examined, suggesting that it is preferable that this is done by someone other than his or her ex-partner if that person is representing themself.

FNF Scotland has already published a guide to representing yourself in the Scottish courts and are keen to hear experiences of party litigants.

Sunday
Jul102011

Consultation on Lay Assistants

Provisions of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 that could allow lay representatives to speak on behalf of people who are representing themselves in civil courts come into force on 1st September 2011.

A working group chaired by Lord Pentland is now seeking views on their proposals about how this change will work.  A paper on lay representation in the Court of Session and the Sheriff Courts has just been published, with submissions due by the end of August.

Families Need Fathers Scotland will submit our comments, including the organisations' experience of the McKenzie Friend system in England and Wales. 

We would like to hear from anyone who is representing themself in the Scottish courts or acting as a lay assistant.   Contact john.forsyth@fnf.org.uk or ring 0131 557 2440.