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Word of warning for McKenzie Friends & Co

Articles | Tue 19th Mar, 2019

I have seen this decision reported in a number of places online and it seems to be both important and interesting, so thought I’d add something brief here.

The High Court has given much needed guidance on the duty of care owed by unqualified advisers such as McKenzie Friends. In essence they are judged by the standard that they have themselves assumed, so where a McKenzie Friend tells their client they can provide the same standard of service as a solicitor or barrister then this is the standard by which they shall be judged if a professional negligence claim is later pursued against them.

In Paul Wright v Troy Lucas (a firm) & George Rusz Mr Wright was left permanently disabled following negligently performed NHS surgery. He sought legal help from George Rusz who described himself as an experienced legal professional, operating through his company Troy Lucas which professed to be able to provide an equivalent or even superior service to any solicitor or barrister.

Mr Rusz proved to be a rather poor adviser, making a number of serious mistakes which left Mr Wright liable for adverse costs orders and caused him to under-settle his claim. Accordingly he sued Mr Rusz and Troy Lucas for professional negligence, who defended the claim on the basis there was no contract and they owed no duty of care.

The High Court dismissed these arguments, and judged the Defendants against the standard of the competent legal advisers they held themselves out to be. The claim succeeded and damages of £263,759 were awarded.

To my mind this is a triumph for unwitting consumers of legal services, and for common sense.

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