Bono Home About
to Help Bar
in the Community
In the Unit’s first
6 years more than 1,350 barristers have volunteered their services, over
4,000 applications have been received and more than 1,500 individuals have
This Web site,
generously created for the Unit free of charge by Context Limited, can
For barristers and
solicitors volunteering, the member’s
area provides news and information about the Unit.
I set up the Unit six years ago it has gone from strength to strength.
This serves as a tribute to its dedicated members. I am honoured to remain
as the Unit’s President. Pro bono work is an asset to any legal career.
It also boosts the reputation of the profession. Most importantly, it
gives access to legal assistance to those who need but cannot afford to
pay for it. Pro bono work forms a central plank of Government efforts to
tackle social exclusion. I look forward to working closely with the Unit
to continue to promote it.”
Attorney General and President of the Bar Pro Bono Unit
its establishment the Bar Pro Bono Unit has made an increasingly important
contribution to the delivery of justice. The public, the profession and
the courts have good reason to be grateful to the Unit for what it is
achieving. The public, because of the numbers who have benefited from
advice and representation which they sorely need. The profession, because
the work of the Unit has increased the profession’s standing in the eyes
of the judiciary and the public. The courts, because, with the help of the
representation arranged by the Unit, a just outcome was assured in cases
where this might not otherwise have happened. The Unit deserves our
Lord Chief Justice and Chairman of the Unit's Advisory Board
bono publico describes work done for the public good. For
the legal profession, pro bono refers to the provision
of free legal services
Applicants must complete the Unit’s Application
Form in full and must satisfy the criteria for acceptance. View
the Unit’s information leaflet.
The applicant must ensure that there is sufficient information with the
application for the case to be considered properly. For example, it is essential
to provide photocopies of all relevant documents before the court,
such as pleadings, statements, judgments/decisions as well as advice
received from barristers and/or solicitors.
Original documents and large quantites of documents should not be sent,
as documents cannot be returned.
If a case is urgent, this should be highlighted. However, the Unit will
not normally be able to provide representation without at least 14 days’
notice of any Court hearing or other deadline, and there is no guarantee
that the Unit can respond to an urgent request.
Significant developments – such as a change of hearing date – after an
application has been submitted but before a decision has been notified,
should be reported to the Unit.
Factors which will
normally decide whether the Unit can help are:
the case have legal merit and deserve pro bono assistance?
the applicant financially ineligible for public funding (Legal Aid)
and unable to pay for the assistance they require and have no other
form of help with legal expenses (e.g. from insurance or a trade
the services of an experienced barrister needed?
the work (preparation, advice and representation) capable of
completion within three working days? Assistance can be given beyond
that time limit in exceptional cases.
there a more suitable alternative source of help?
- For example,
the Free Representation Units in London, the North West, the South
West and Wales, which provide representation for tribunals.
- Where the
applicant is a litigant in person, an assessment will be made as to
whether a solicitor is also required to assist with the case.
possible the applicant should make an application with the
assistance of a solicitor or other advice agency who is willing to
remain involved in the case. In exceptional cases the Unit may be
able to find a pro bono solicitor to work alongside and support
the barrister volunteer.
for assistance cover the whole range of law. Barristers have
helped in cases in the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the County
Courts, the Coroners’ Courts, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, many
Tribunals and Public Inquiries – as well as advising on appeals to
the House of Lords.
In 2000 and 2001,
the Unit received over 1700 requests for help and assisted in over 620
cases. A small selection of the cases supported by the Unit around
England and Wales are outlined here.
Work in the
Court of Appeal
- A QC and Junior
Counsel and solicitors acted for the appellants in a boundary
dispute case where a complaint of bias on the part of the Judge in
the County Court was considered. The appeal was eventually
dismissed but it raised important questions as to the jurisdiction
of the Court of Appeal and to the law relating to bias. Legal
representation was essential in order that the case be fairly
v Lawrence, The Times 8th February 2002)
- A QC and Junior
Counsel appeared on behalf of the RCJ Advice Bureau which had
intervened in a case provoked by the activity of an unqualified
"representative" who had been offering his services to
clients of the Bureau. The Judgment of the Court laid down clear
rules relating to the conduct of "McKenzie Friends" and
other unqualified advisors. (Paragon
Finance plc v Noueiri,  1 WLR 2357)
The Unit retains an
absolute discretion to refuse any application for representation or advice
and exclude any liability in respect of such a refusal.
full details on criteria, procedure and conditions of acceptance of
cases, please see Application
Pro Bono Unit and Bar in the Community can be contacted during office
Address: Bar Pro Bono Unit, The National Pro Bono Centre, 48 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1JF
DX: 188 London Chancery Lane
Enquiry Line: 0207 092 3960
Fax: 020 7831 9733
Director: Alice Sheldon
Caseworkers: Fiona Ball and Sufiya Patel
Bar in the Community Administrator: Veronica Carter
applications for assistance must be made in writing on the Unit’s
note: You will require Adobe Acrobat in order to read the application
Adobe Acrobat is available free of charge – click the icon to
download the latest version.
Bar Pro Bono Unit is a Registered Charity No. 1057620 and a company
limited by guarantee in England No. 3237309
Bar in the Community is a Registered Charity No. 1089907 and a company
limited by guarantee in England No. 4211688
Registered Office: The General Council of the Bar, 3 Bedford Row, London
President: Lord Goldsmith QC Chair: Nicholas Underhill QC