Pro Bono Story
When local shopkeeper Derek* discovered that Fatima*, an elderly woman, was desperately trying to help her family emigrate to the UK from Afghanistan, he persuaded her that he could help them be granted an entrepreneurial visa if they invested in his business. Fatima believed him and gave him her savings but once they had been transferred, he denied receiving them – and denied making any promises of help to Fatima. Derek even said he did not know her. He ignored her phone calls, hoping that she would grow tired and simply give up.
But Fatima wouldn’t give up. Even though she couldn’t afford legal representation, she fought for six years to get back her savings from Derek. Finally, through legal charity Advocate, Adam Kramer QC, a barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings, agreed to represent her pro bono in a one-off hearing.
Once he met Fatima, however, he knew he wanted to continue to represent her to trial. This meant they would also need a solicitor, so Pro Bono Connect brought Morrison Foerster LLP in on the case. Adam and the Morrison Foerster team, led by Jonathan Wheeler and Jason Mbakwe, worked tirelessly over the next few months to prepare the strongest case possible, putting in over 500 pro bono hours.
They won. The court ruled in Fatima’s favour in a life-changing judgment for her and her family. Not only was a successful claim of £80,000 made against Derek, but a landmark pro bono costs order of £54,000 was also ordered, resulting in additional funds for the Access to Justice Foundation. After so many years of fighting, this amazing collaborative effort resulted in justice for Fatima and her family.
*names have been changed for the purposes of anonymity
Pro Bono Connect matches solicitors and barristers to work together on pro bono cases that need collaboration. Find out more at www.probonoconnect.co.uk
The Access to Justice Foundation awards grants to legal advice charities and raises funds to help to make the case for advice across the UK – www.atjf.org.uk
Advocate is a legal charity that matches volunteer barristers with people in need of advice, drafting and representation. Sign up to the barrister panel at www.weareadvocate.org.uk