Pro Bono Representation

Many members of the Chancery Bar Association volunteer to provide legal advice or representation without charging fees.  This is commonly referred to as acting pro bono.  Members do so through the following schemes or organisations.

Bar Pro Bono Unit

The Bar Pro Bono Unit can arrange for advice or representation to be provided by a barrister in any area of the law in England and Wales.

To obtain advice or representation it is necessary to apply to the Bar Pro Bono Unit through a solicitor or an advice agency, such as a citizens’ advice bureau.  In deciding whether to accept a case the Bar Pro Bono Unit considers a number of factors.  These factors include how deserving the case is and whether there are any other ways help can be obtained.

The barristers who provide advice or representation are barristers who have volunteered to take on cases referred by the Bar Pro Bono Unit.

Free Representation Unit

The Free Representation Unit or FRU provides junior lawyers and law students to act as advocates at tribunal hearings in the London and Nottingham areas in relation to:

  • child support;
  • criminal injuries compensation;
  • discrimination;
  • employment;
  • social security;
  • tax credits;
  • war pensions;
  • welfare benefits.

Cases are referred to FRU by accredited FRU agencies and not by private individuals.

Personal Support Unit

The Personal Support Unit or PSU provides non-legal advice, information and support to litigants in person and to any member of the public attending at the Royal Courts of Justice who may need help or assistance.

The PSU also operates at the Principal Registry of the Family Division and at the Wandsworth County Court.

PILARS

PILARS provides assistance for debtors or bankrupts in the High Court when they are not entitled to public funding in relation to:

  • creditors’ bankruptcy proceedings;
  • applications to set aside statutory demands;
  • applications to annul bankruptcy orders.

The scheme operates by matching volunteer barristers with the particular needs of the unrepresented individual.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit administers the scheme.

Applications for legal assistance through PILARS must be made through the RCJ Advice Bureau (the details of which are set out below), National Debtline (https://www.nationaldebtline.org/ or 0808 808 4000) or Business Debtline (https://www.businessdebtline.org/ or 0800 197 6026).

Royal Courts of Justice Citizens’ Advice Bureau

There is a Citizens’ Advice Bureau in the Royal Courts of Justice.  For litigants involved in proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court, there is a Citizens’ Advice Bureau in the Principal Registry of the Family Division.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau operates as a drop-in service to personal callers.  There are some appointments in the afternoon; otherwise those seeking assistance are dealt with on a first-come first-served basis.