Charity institutions offering free legal aid to address increasing legal needs in the United Kingdom are spread thin. Top lawyers warn the UK Ministry of Justice to return funding to earlier state to avoid injustice in the country.
According to legal charity the Bar Pro Bono Unit, applications for legal assistance increased in the last three years since the MOJ cut civil legal aid. Lawyers said it had strained other charities’ resources and kind-hearted barristers and solicitors given these individuals and groups do not exist to fill legal gaps.
About 3,600 barristers from the Bar Pro Bono Unit had dedicated their time to help claimants all over the country settle their legal disputes with proper representation. The Bar, chambers and individual barristers fund almost everything the solicitors and lawyers need.
BBPU Chief Executive Jess Campbell expresses the need for more volunteers and caseworkers for better handling of cases.
“We welcome the fact that the justice secretary has raised the profile of pro bono work,” she said.
“We are seeing a 30% increase in applications year on year. The bar has always supported pro bono work and giving unbilled hours. It’s in the nature of the profession to do it. The difference now, however, is that barristers are being asked to do work that they would previously have been paid for. Some find it quite galling. They are entitled to feel that. They are being squeezed but the unit is very lucky that the ethos of the bar means we are still getting volunteers and funding from the bar. We still have barristers specialising in housing, family, employment and immigration law – the areas hit hardest – picking up cases.”