Partner schemes

Listed here are schemes that operate in partnership with Advocate and which barristers are welcome to participate in. Some are administered by Advocate and some are standalone so please check each one for details on how to join. 

CLIPS - Chancery Bar Litigant in Person Support Scheme

On 4 December 2013, the Chancery Bar Association, in collaboration with Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit) and the RCJ Advice Bureau, launched the Chancery Bar Litigant in Person Support Scheme (CLIPS). CLIPS has the strong support of the Chancellor and the Judges of the Chancery Division, and is also works alongside the Personal Support Unit and LawWorks.  It aims to provide “on the day” advice and representation for litigants in person in the Interim Applications Court of the Business and Property Courts.  The scheme is intended to assist litigants in presenting their cases to the court, while at the same time assisting the Interim Applications Judge to serve the interests of justice. In this way, members of COMBAR, TECBAR, PBA, ELBA, SAHCA as well as the ChBA can contribute to the Bar’s efforts to ensure that access to justice is not hampered by an individual’s limited financial means.

Members of the above associations with post-pupillage Chancery experience are invited to volunteer to be on duty for a day at a time. The RCJ Advice Bureau may in some cases make papers available to the barrister the day before the hearing but in most cases the volunteer will simply be available outside Court 10 in the Rolls Building, between 10 and 11 am on the day of the hearing itself, and then on call in chambers until 4.30 pm, in case a litigant requires assistance. The volunteer will provide such advice as is possible in the immediate circumstances, and will be ready (if requested and if content that it is professionally appropriate) to appear for the litigant at that day’s hearing. The litigant may also receive non-legal support (for example, from the RCJ Advice Bureau or the Personal Support Unit). Where ongoing assistance is required, the volunteer may refer the litigant to the RCJ Advice Bureau or to Advocate.  The volunteer’s own commitment is limited to the day in question.

A similar scheme operates in the Business and Property Lists at the County Court at Central London on Fridays only.

To sign up for the rota in either the High Court or CCCL, or to download the supporting documentation, please go to http://probono.chba.org.uk/.

Commercial Court and London Circuit Commercial Court
Pro Bono Scheme 

This scheme commenced in January 2020 providing Pro Bono assistance in the London Circuit Commercial Court, and will be extended to the Commercial Court in October 2020. The scheme has the full backing of the respective judges in charge, HHJ Mark Pelling QC and Teare J, and is to be operated (at least initially) by Combar in conjunction with Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit) for a pilot period of 18 months. The scheme envisages that litigants in person with an application listed for less than a day will be offered the opportunity to seek pro bono assistance. If the case is approved as suitable for assistance by Advocate and a small panel of Combar Committee members, a summary of it will be circulated to a mailing list of willing Combar members. The case will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis to any Combar member who volunteers in response to that email, who then conducts the hearing under licensed access instruction by Advocate. The papers and guidance in relation to the Scheme role will be provided to the barrister in advance of the hearing. Any further assistance beyond the hearing will fall outside the scope of that engagement and be engaged by further application, if at all. 

This scheme will give good opportunities for advocacy before grateful judges, and joining the list does not itself involve a commitment to take on any cases. The CLIPS scheme in the Chancery Division is similar to the Commercial Court and London Central Commercial Court scheme, but the latter differs in important respects: it offers an opportunity to appear in hearings that may be somewhat more substantial than is common in the Chancery Division Applications Court, with papers provided in advance (albeit potentially at short notice) having been vetted by a Combar panel. There are therefore good reasons to offer your time to both schemes. 

The Scheme Protocol can be found here. The Explanatory Note can be found here. The Q&A for Participants can be found here

If you are willing to volunteer, please email Veronica or Alison at admin@combar.com, providing your name, chambers (or other place of practice), email address and a contact telephone number. You can withdraw from the mailing list at any time. https://www.combar.com/members-area/clips-pro-bono-schemes/ 

Employment Law Appeal Advice Scheme (ELAAS)

The ELAAS scheme provides pro bono representation at some preliminary hearings in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. ELAAS is coordinated and managed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, with input from the Employment Lawyers Bar Association (ELBA) Committee on behalf of ELAAS representatives (barristers and solicitors) who volunteer their services. 

Barristers and solicitors who specialise in employment law, and have sufficient experience of conducting substantive hearings in the Employment Tribunal and/or the Employment Appeal Tribunal are eligible to apply to be ELAAS representatives. Further information about the eligibility criteria to become an ELAAS representative can be found here.

Personal Insolvency Litigation Advice and Representation Scheme (PILARS) 

PILARS provides advice and/or representation for unrepresented debtors or bankrupts in bankruptcy proceedings who need legal assistance but are not entitled to public funding and cannot afford to pay for assistance. Cases must fall into the following categories:

  • a creditor’s bankruptcy petition has been presented against the Applicant at a court in England or Wales; or
  • the Applicant has been served with a statutory demand with the local court listed as a court in England or Wales and has applied to set it aside or is considering such an application; or
  • the Applicant has been adjudged bankrupt and has applied for annulment or is considering such an application at a court in England or Wales; or
  • an appeal in such cases.

The scheme operates by matching volunteer barristers with the particular needs of the unrepresented individual. 

Advocate administers the scheme pursuant to a bespoke manual and volunteer barristers are sourced from Advocate’s panel.

Applications to Advocate for legal assistance through PILARS must be made through the RCJ Advice Bureau, National Debtline (0808 808 4000) or Business Debtline (or 0800 197 6026).