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Pro Bono Week: 2-6 November 2020

As we come to the end of the 19th Pro Bono Week 2020, a time when the legal profession is recognising and supporting the voluntary contributions made by lawyers across the UK, Serle Court is thankful to its barristers that have contributed to pro bono efforts in the legal sector this year.

The theme of this year’s pro bono week is Pro bono: Through the pandemic and beyond .  The series of online events encourages participants to reflect a period of unprecedented challenges for both the voluntary and legal sectors where pro bono legal help has never been more important.  We thank all of our members who have been involved in pro bono advice, assistance and initiatives at this time.  Just a few recent examples of the types of pro bono cases that members have been involved in are below.

Michael Edenborough QC has offered his time on four separate cases for users of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on various EU Trade Mark registration matters including issues of registrability, conflicts with other marks, and IP protection and exploitation strategy.

Ruth Jordan is involved in a professional negligence claim in relation to a Tomlin Order that resulted in a charging order, and challenged the application for an order for sale based on that charging order where a vulnerable adult resides in the property.  

James Brightwell is instructed on a pro bono basis in respect of a claim for the construction of the trusts on which a sports ground is held where the application is for a prospective costs orders.  The clients could not have taken this matter forward without counsel’s assistance.

Matthew Morrison instructed by Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit) is appearing in a 4 day trial in the Oxford County Court.  His client is claiming a beneficial interest in a property owned jointly by the Claimant’s late father, who died in 2009, and his partner. His client is in difficult circumstances and his potential inheritance will make a crucial difference to his future.

Through Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit), earlier this summer Thomas Elias provided pro bono intellectual property advice to a music charity to help them with the process of moving “live” classes online because of the pandemic. 

In August James Behrens gave pro bono advice to an archbishop in relation to an issue of church law.

Access to Justice

Lance Ashworth QC continues to support the work of The Access to Justice Foundation.  In his capacity as trustee he has given up hours of time in meetings throughout the pandemic including discussions with the Grants Committee which has distributed over £11,640,000 between June and October 2020 to front line advice agencies – a phenomenal initiative. 

For more information regarding the recent community justice grants please visit the grants website:


Several members of chambers regularly undertake instructions from Advocate (previously the Bar Pro Bono Unit), taking on cases and offering advice and representation free of charge. Other members of chambers act as case reviewers for Advocate and two members are Pro Bono Champions having secured sizeable costs orders in favour of Advocate following successful hearings.


Many members of chambers volunteer their time to the Chancery Bar Litigant in Person Support Scheme (CLIPS), a successful scheme run by the Chancery Bar Association to provide legal advice and representation for litigants in person at the Chancery Applications Court.


The Personal Insolvency Litigation Advice and Representation Scheme (PILARS) is co-run by a member of chambers.  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.  Applications for legal assistance through PILARS must be made through the RCJ Advice Bureau.

Please visit our CSR pages here for more information.