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Clarity of pro bono costs order praised

[28 Nov 2010] National Pro Bono Week comprises events across the country celebrating the range and impact of pro bono (free-of-charge) activity by solicitors, barristers and legal executives. And the Access to Justice Foundation, which receives and distributes money to help get pro bono legal assistance to those who need it most, has won praise for its draft order for pro bono costs.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, declared the draft order refreshingly low in jargon, showing that the word ‘must’ is acceptable in a court order (the often-ambiguous ‘shall’ being traditionally preferred):

  • The [party] must pay costs for pro bono representation to The Access to Justice Foundation (PO Box 64162, London WC1A 9AN), [summarily assessed at £______] [OR] [to be assessed on the standard/indemnity basis if not agreed].)

In 2002, Neuberger’s predecessor, Lord Woolf, offered a magnum of champagne to the lawyer who could suggest a jargon-free alternative to ‘pro bono’. The winning phrase was ‘Law for Free’, but it never caught on.

Maybe ‘Fee-free4U2’ would have fared better?

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