Should it be compulsory to seek pro bono costs?
The Access to Justice Foundation is a cross-profession initiative involving the three branches of the legal profession, together with the voluntary sector. It acts in the public interest to bring additional resources to support free (pro bono) legal help to those in need.
Pro bono costs are the equivalent of legal costs for when a winning party had free legal representation. The costs order reflects the financial value of the pro bono help provided. Section 194 of the Legal Services Act 2007 requires the costs be paid to the Access to Justice Foundation, so they can be distributed to support organisations providing free legal help.
However, the use of pro bono costs amongst the profession remains modest, and therefore so does the amount of funds raised.
The Foundation and LawWorks are now inviting law students to enter their second annual competition, by submitting an article between 750 and 1000 words entitled:
“Should it be compulsory to seek pro bono costs?”
The article should be aimed at the legal profession, as the winning entry will be published (last year’s was published in the New Law Journal). Articles may wish to discuss the pros and cons of making pro bono costs compulsory, whether to the client, their pro bono lawyer, or the Foundation and the public need. In addition, whether it would be feasible to make the
costs compulsory, or if there are alternative ways to ensure lawyers seek, and judges award, pro bono costs.
The winner will receive the Access Justice Foundation Student Prize, which will be presented by HM Attorney General at the student awards at the House of Commons on 30 March 2011. They will also receive £300 of book vouchers kindly donated by LexisNexis to be spent on books from their range.
Please submit your article in Word format to competition@ATJF.org.uk by the deadline of 5pm 1st March 2011. Undergraduate and postgraduate law students may apply, including LPC and BPTC students. Included are those awaiting commencement of their law course or their training contact/pupillage. The competition will be judged by the Board of Trustees of the Foundation chaired by former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith QC.
For more information about the Access to Justice Foundation and pro bono costs visit www.accesstojusticefoundation.org.uk . For information about the LawWorks Student awards visit http://www.lawworks.org.uk/?id=student-awards-2011