NEXT FRIEND, in law, the phrase used for a person who represents in an action another person who is under disability to maintain a suit on his own behalf. This disability arises from infancy or mental incapacity, consequently every application to the court on behalf of an infant or a lunatic must be made through a next friend (prochein amy, proximus amicus). Previous to the Married Women's Property Act 1882 it was also usual for a married woman to sue by a next friend, but that act, allowing a married woman to sue in all respects as a feme sole, has rendered a next friend unnecessary in her case. In the case of an infant the father is prima facie the proper person to act as next friend; in the father's absence the testamentary guardian if any; but any person not under disability may act as next friend so long as he has no interest in the action adverse to that of the infant. A married woman cannot, however, act as next friend. An infant defends a suit, not by a next friend, but by a guardian ad liltm. In the case of a lunatic, he sues by his committee, but if he has no committee, or if the committee has some interest adverse to the lunatic, he sues by his next friend. A next friend has full power over the proceedings in the action as if he were an ordinary plaintiff, but he is not entitled to be heard in person.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)