Next Friend Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Next Friend, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Next Friend?

A person who has volunteered to help or assist another person who is incapable physically or mentally or who is a minor, to file a lawsuit himself/herself. In a case where a party is minor or infant, the father or mother acts as a representative. The next friend (generally a relative) is not the party to the lawsuit and his/her duty ends on completion of the lawsuit. In several cases, a written request is granted to the person who has volunteered to be the next friend.

History and Meaning of Next Friend

In legal terms, a "Next Friend" is a person who volunteers to help or represent someone who is incapable of representing himself or herself, either due to being a minor, having a disability, or some other reason. The term has been around for centuries and has its roots in common law. In the past, it was often used to refer to someone who served as a guardian or protector of a minor child or an incapacitated adult who needed someone to look after their interests.

Examples of Next Friend

  1. A minor child who wishes to bring a legal action against someone, but who cannot do so because they are not of age to enter into a legal contract, may have a next friend help them file the legal action.

  2. An elderly person who is suffering from dementia and is unable to make legal decisions for themselves may have a next friend appointed to make decisions on their behalf.

  3. A disabled person who is unable to manage their own affairs and does not have a legal guardian may have a next friend appointed to assist them.

  4. A parent who wishes to bring a legal action on behalf of their minor child may act as a next friend to represent their child's interests.

Legal Terms Similar to Next Friend

  1. Guardian ad Litem - Similar to a next friend, a guardian ad litem is a person who is appointed to represent the interests of a minor child or an incapacitated adult in a legal proceeding.

  2. Conservator - A conservator is a person appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs of a person who is unable to do so themselves due to a disability or incapacity.

  3. Power of Attorney - A power of attorney is a legal document that allows one person to act on behalf of another in legal and financial matters.