One of our advisers had a client who has learning difficulties, memory problems and difficulties expressing herself. The caseworker felt that it was therefore in the interests of justice that she attend with WB Tribunal so she could provide the client with assistance.
The adviser has just passed the file to me for closure as an Escape Fee. I noticed that she had claimed the time representing the client as a McKenzie Friend. Now, as I understood it, a McKenzie Friend provides moral support and does not speak on behalf of the client but gives quiet advice in the background. I also understood that you had to get the Court's permission prior to the Tribunal to attend as a MF but that it wasn't something you could get paid for.
So, I have a couple of queries.
1. Does an MF ever get paid by the LAA? 2. If not, can we claim the attendance at the Tribunal for the reason that our client could not have properly represented herself?
Post by Colin Henderson on Apr 26, 2014 11:44:02 GMT
I take it this is an old pre-April 2013 matter which is only finishing now.
My understanding is that there were never any circumstances in which you could claim for the advocacy time in a tribunal, whether you call yourself a representative, helper, McKenzie Friend or otherwise. This was regardless of the client's difficulties and even if they couldn't possibly manage by themselves. So this time will be disallowed on assessment by the Escape Fee team.
However you can claim for time attending the client and helping then prepare for the tribunal up to the moment you step into the hearing room, especially if their disabilities mean that without that help they couldn't cope. Perhaps that work took quite a while in this case?? ;-)