Welcome to the Free Legal Services Unit
THE UNIT established by the Faculty of Advocates
The Free Legal Services Unit was established by the Scottish Bar to provide free legal advice and representation in deserving cases for those who cannot afford the legal help which they need, and who cannot obtain assistance from any other source. Advice and representation is provided by advocates who have volunteered to join the Faculty of Advocates Free Legal Services Panel.
How can the Unit help?
We can help by putting members of the public, referred by an advice agency,
in touch with advocates on our panel who can:
- Give ADVICE - either in the form of a written opinion or verbal advice at consultation; or
- REPRESENT them in any Court or Tribunal in Scotland; or
- Provide assistance with MEDIATION
Free of Charge
Applications for advice or representation are considered by our Management Committee, whose decisions are final. The Unit seeks to ensure that any advice and/or representation provided will be of the same quality as if the case were funded.
Volunteer advocates do not charge clients for the work that they do. However, in certain cases someone on the other side of the case can and does ask for an order that their own legal expenses be paid by the client represented by the volunteer advocate. That may be when the client has lost the case, but it can also happen for example if the client has lost a part of the case. That the client has had a volunteer advocate will not mean that such an order cannot be made. If such an order is made, the involvement of a volunteer advocate will not prevent the order being enforced.
Pro Bono Legal Work
Pro bono legal Work has always been an integral part of membership of the Faculty of Advocates, as part of its work in providing access to justice and meeting otherwise unmet legal need. Delivery of Pro bono legal work by advocates is now organised by the Faculty of Advocates Free Legal Services Unit, working with partner advice agencies.
Pro bono legal work will be more effectively delivered by co-ordination of the relationship between the advocate and the agency by the Unit.
Pro bono legal work will only be undertaken by an advocate where there has been a referral from an advice agency.
When we refer to Pro bono legal work we mean legal advice or representation provided by advocates on a referral by advice agencies, accredited by the Faculty, to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for that advice or representation and where legal aid or other funding is not available.
Legal work is pro bono legal work only if it is free to the applicant, without payment to the advocate (regardless of the outcome) and provided voluntarily by the advocate.
Pro bono legal work is always only an adjunct to, and not a substitute for, a proper system of publicly-funded legal services. The availability of appropriately funded legal advice or representation will require to be considered before an advocate undertakes pro bono legal work. The Faculty and its partner advice agencies are committed to working for the improvement of publicly funded legal advice and representation for appropriate cases.