Pro bono publico

One of the new roles that I have taken on this year, is the Pro Bono Champion of chambers. Its actually an official title.

It is awarded by Advocate, the new name for the Bar Pro Bono Unit, and a list of Champions can be found here:  https://weareadvocate.org.uk/probonochampions.html.

In practical terms, it means I take on one case a month to provide either advice or representation free of charge.

Having guzzled heartily at the trough of fee paying barrister-ing for more than 20 years now, it is a small way to make a contribution to society.

If you are reading this blog and you are a barrister, I urge you to sign up to the Advocate scheme and perhaps take on the role of Champion yourself.

If you are acting for a party pro bono in some other capacity, then you may or may not be aware of the court’s ability to make pro bono costs orders, in which case read on.

One neglected part of the Civil Procedure Rules, is rule 46.7 CPR, which forms part of that salon des refuses, where all the costs rules are placed that have no logical place elsewhere.

Rule 46.7 CPR allows an advocate, if they are appearing pro bono if they have won the case, to invite the court to make a special costs order at the conclusion of a hearing requiring the losing party to pay the costs that would otherwise be due to a party, to a prescribed charity instead.

The charity in question is the Access to Justice Foundation.

You can read more about that excellent organisation and its work here: https://atjf.org.uk/

The text of the rule provides as follows.

46.7

(1) Where the court makes an order under section 194(3) of the 2007 Act –

(a) the court may order the payment to the prescribed charity of a sum no greater than the costs specified in Part 45 to which the party with pro bono representation would have been entitled in accordance with that Part and in respect of that representation had it not been provided free of charge; or

(b) where Part 45 does not apply, the court may determine the amount of the payment (other than a sum equivalent to fixed costs) to be made by the paying party to the prescribed charity by –

(i) making a summary assessment; or

(ii) making an order for detailed assessment,

of a sum equivalent to all or part of the costs the paying party would have been ordered to pay to the party with pro bono representation in respect of that representation had it not been provided free of charge.

(2) Where the court makes an order under section 194(3) of the 2007 Act, the order must direct that the payment by the paying party be made to the prescribed charity.

(3) The receiving party must send a copy of the order to the prescribed charity within 7 days of receipt of the order.

(4) Where the court considers making or makes an order under section 194(3) of the 2007 Act, Parts 44 to 47 apply, where appropriate, with the following modifications –

(a) references to ‘costs orders’, ‘orders about costs’ or ‘orders for the payment of costs’ are to be read, unless otherwise stated, as if they refer to an order under section 194(3);

(b) references to ‘costs’ are to be read as if they referred to a sum equivalent to the costs that would have been claimed by, incurred by or awarded to the party with pro bono representation in respect of that representation had it not been provided free of charge; and

(c) references to ‘receiving party’ are to be read, as meaning a party who has pro bono representation and who would have been entitled to be paid costs in respect of that representation had it not been provided free of charge.

It shall be noted that there is an obligation on the part of the party who has had pro bono representation to send a copy of the costs Order to the Access to Justice Foundation.

Any advocate appearing pro bono, can ask for such an order to be made. You don’t need to be part of the Advocate scheme, or a barrister.

It provides a small but useful source of income for a charity, which is dedicated to improving access to justice.

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