An offender has a right to legal representation before the Board. The Board encourages professionals supporting the offender to attend the hearing. Family and proposed/existing co-residents are also encouraged to participate in the hearing, but this is subject to any security issues and the technological capacity of the Board’s venue.

The Board, like a court, can receive a request from an offender appearing before them to have a McKenzie Friend, that is a person to ‘take notes …quietly make suggestions and give advice’ (McKenzie v McKenzie [1971] P 33). Whether an offender is allowed a McKenzie Friend is at the discretion of the Board [section 209 Crimes (Sentence Administration) Act 2005 CSA Act)]. This decision is made on a case by case basis.

The participation of a McKenzie Friend is subject to a range of considerations. For example, if the person requesting a McKenzie Friend has genuine difficulties presenting their case, this factor may support approval of the request. Where the proposed McKenzie Friend has an interest in the proceedings or has had prior involvement with any party that may be relevant to the proceedings, the Board will not normally allow that person to be a McKenzie Friend.

If an offender requests a McKenzie Friend they should provide their request to the Secretariat at the earliest possible time so a decision can be made before a hearing. The request should include the name of the proposed McKenzie Friend, confirmation by that person that they consent, and the reasons that the offender requires a McKenzie Friend.