FRU – The Free Representation Unit

The Free Representation Unit

FRU has been providing representation in social security and employment tribunals since 1972. We help people who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford lawyers. Our work is done by volunteers, mostly law students and legal professionals in the early stages of their career. All FRU’s representatives are trained and supervised by our legal officers.

In addition to our London office we work in partnership with Nottingham Law School.

FRU provides representation in:

  • Employment tribunals (and the Employment Appeal Tribunal);
  • Benefit appeals in the first-tier tribunal (and Upper Tribunal);
  • Criminal injury compensation cases in the first-tier tribunal (and Upper Tribunal).

New project for 2015

The Free Representation Unit is pleased to announce its new employment self-referral project for 2015. Thanks to funding from Trust for London FRU is now able to allow clients with short employment tribunal cases to approach us directly rather than requiring referral from an advice agency.

To be eligible for self-referral a case must be listed for a full merits hearing of one or two days in London or the South East. We cannot accept self-referrals of preliminary hearings where the final hearing is to last longer than two days. All other clients, including all social security clients, will need to be referred as before.

Clients with suitable cases should contact us by phone (0207 611 9555) to arrange an appointment to bring in their papers. If you have a client whom you are unable to help and who is eligible for self-referral, please feel free to help them make the appointment. If we are able to accept the referral we will then look for a volunteer representative.

The project’s aim is to ensure that our referral model does not become a barrier to those in need of representation. We currently have quite a bit of spare capacity to represent short, straightforward employment cases. At the same time we have experienced a marked drop in the number of referrals.

Undoubtedly this is due in large part to the introduction of fees in the employment tribunal. Nevertheless we are concerned that cuts in advice sector funding have made it harder for some clients to access local sources of advice. We hope this project can reach some of these people.

As ever, by accepting a self-referral we will not guarantee representation. We will not offer any advice unless and until a volunteer is found and we will still only accept cases once a hearing has been listed. We do not intend to replicate the work currently done by our referral agencies and remain firmly of the view that it is better for our clients to receive quality advice at an early stage.

Further details on how self-referral will work are available on our website (http://www.thefru.org.uk/Employment-Self-Referral). If you have any questions or comments about how this project will affect you or your clients please do not hesitate to contact us.