Researchers at the University of Bristol and University of Leeds have published a study that is concerning for those looking to the internet and social media for legal advice on Family Law matters.
The research considered the advice provided online by 30 McKenzie Friends in various online platforms and social media threads. They found that the advice given was biased and misinformed, with some of the McKenzie Friends suggesting that individuals should ignore the advice of their lawyers and stating that the Courts were institutionally unfair.
One of the authors of the study, Dr Tatiana Tkacukova, commented:
“While there are many positive experiences, the unregulated environment online means that our research found several instances of worrying, biased and misleading advice. The negative portrayals of the courts and social services, alongside the advice to ignore specialised legal advice show a worrying trend towards personal viewpoints and agendas clouding impartial and objective support.”
What are McKenzie Friends
McKenzie Friends are individuals who may assist someone with a dispute (usually Family Law matters) in terms of providing moral support, attending at Court with them and taking notes at Court. However, they are not allowed to conduct the case or address the Court.
A McKenzie Friend can be a family member, friend, work colleague etc. However, some McKenzie Friends offer their services to people they do not know, such as on the internet as per the study above and charge for their services. This is despite the fact that they are not qualified Solicitors or Barristers and in the majority of cases do not have any legal training.
How We can Help
Whilst it is understandable that people may look to the internet and social media for advice, this study shows that it is highly questionable that the advice given in these threads can be relied on.
At Waller Needham & Green you will always receive unbiased legal advice from a Solicitor specialising in Family Law. We offer a fixed fee initial meeting for £120 (inclusive of VAT) which includes a letter following the meeting confirming the advice given.