Maria was nominated by Barbara Connolly, a fellow colleague in Chambers. Maria has made a huge contribution to pro bono by taking on 12 cases in the past 12 months alone, become a reviewer for the Unit and all alongside being a very busy practitioner! Maria has taken on a wide variety of work ranging from written advice to representation in court, in addition to reviewing cases.
"...for me Maria is a superb role model - even as one judge said without her own commitments - 12 pro bono cases in one year is fantastic. Reading the testimonials to her is inspiring."
Lord Goldsmith QC
"I find it remarkable that anyone can hold down a busy family practice and yet still make the time to do a substantial volume of difficult and emotionally-draining pro bono work. She epitomises for me everything that is creditable about pro bono activity."
David Hobart, Chief Executive of the Bar Council
“Maria gave her total commitment to getting my case agreed out of court and to do this she defended me with a passion and commitment that matched my own and in doing so won the day for me and my children… Her openness and devotion to the pro bono ethic was totally inspiring.”
Emma Harris, pro bono client
The winner of the Bar Pro Bono Award 2009 was
Andrew Walker of Maitland Chambers
Andrew was nominated by John Gallagher of Shelter's Children's Legal Service. Andrew undertook a complex pro bono case, successfully representing a couple who had been the victims of a 'sale and rent back' scheme. The couple and their children faced eviction when the purchaser defaulted on the mortgage.
Mr Walker persuaded the court to set aside the entire transaction, the first known instance of a person successfully challenging an action by either the landlord or mortgagee following a sale and rent back scheme. In addition, the case attracted a £20,000 pro bono costs order in favour of the Access to Justice Foundation.
"...the issues in this case were extremely complex and the arguments broke new ground, bringing together a mass of statutory and case law material which would have daunted anyone who did not possess Andrew Walker's immense erudition...My colleagues and I found his dedication genuinely inspiring."
John Gallagher, Principal Solicitor, Shelter
"It was a rare privilege to work with Andrew on this case...He gave his time unstintingly, demonstrating deep commitment to pro bono work (even working late New Year's Eve to prepare his skeleton argument). Clearly the case was of huge significance to the clients...who retained their family home as a result of Andrew's hard work and there is considerable scope for the court's decision to be of benefit to others who find themselves in a similar position."
Marie Burton, Solicitor, Shelter
"Securing immediate support of pro bono counsel for a case which at the outset was bound to be complex and involved an extremely tricky proposition...His commitment...and belief in the client and the injustice of their position should be an inspiration to us all."
Clarissa O'Callaghan and Paul Yates, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
To find out about the 2008 Winner and Nominees click here
2006 winner: Michael Fordham QC
"Michael Fordham QC of Blackstone Chambers has a long standing committment to pro bono work and dedicates a very high proportion of his time to it. He brings the same care and commitment as to his other work, and his friendly and informal manner helps to set at ease those involved in a particular case. Michael's contribution to the development of law and legal policy is undoubted, and he is a deserving recipient of this award"
2005 winner: Keir Starmer QC
“Keir Starmer QC has for many years sustained a campaign across different jurisdictions against the death penalty. He has made a major contribution to changing the jurisprudence of the commonwealth on a fundamental matter – life and death. It has been a huge sustained effort. His other work pro bono for NGOs has also been of real importance. The world is truly the better for his outstanding efforts.” Guy Mansfield QC, Chairman of the Bar Council 2005
2004 winner: Andrew Hall QC
Andrew Hall of Doughty Street Chambers was nominated for his work involving several organisations, including the Bar Council, the British Council, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to develop and promote legal training, resources and expertise throughout East and Central Africa.
2003 winner: John Horan
John was nominated for the Award by Islington Law Centre, following his work for them in a disability discrimination claim. He is himself disabled following a stroke in 2000. He slowly returned to work after this, building a practice which includes at least one third pro bono work, mainly in the area of disability discrimination. In nominating him, the Law Centre said: “His willingness to put so much into each case, and to do so much work for free, is heroic. It would have been easy and understandable to look after his own interests, minimise work and maximise an income, after an extended absence due to ill health. Instead he is pouring his time and unique experience into pro bono work and must be a challenge to the rest of the able bodied profession.”
2002 winner: Samantha Knights
For her remarkable contribution to the work of Islington Law Centre. Samantha is a regular volunteer at the Law Centre, fitting the huge amount of advice and representation work which she does for clients on a pro bono basis around the demands of her own busy commercial practice. The judges were keen to pay tribute to Miss Knight’s ongoing commitment to low profile but hugely valuable pro bono work, commenting that it is this type of contribution which is often overlooked in the media.
2001 winner: Simon Michael
For his work with Victim Support Bedfordshire Road Traffic Service and for establishing an innovative pro bono scheme in the Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner’s Court. The judges felt that the Victim Support Bedfordshire Road Traffic Service provided a model scheme to support and counsel those bereaved as a result of road accidents, and the pro bono scheme in the Coroner’s Court was described by an HM Coroner for Bedfordshire and Luton as a “unique and excellent service for all persons attending the Coroner’s Court”.
2000 winners: Daniel Leader and Philippa Page
For pro bono work in Kenya, where for a year they worked alongside a group of Kenyan Lawyers in setting up two Legal Aid Clinics in Nairobi and Mombasa. Much of their time was spent acting as caseworkers, holding conferences with clients, drafting pleadings, carrying out research and attending court. Cases included civil actions against the police for torture, corruption and arbitrary arrest; family work; judicial review proceedings and criminal law. As a result of their tireless work the project, organised by the Christian Legal Education, Aid and Research, has now received funding to employ permanent full time workers.
1999 winner: Doughty Street Chambers
For their extensive commitment to pro bono work: assisting in "death row" appeals, inquests, criminal appeals and libel cases, providing advocacy skills training to lawyers in Tanzania, supporting the Campaign Against Torture in Palestine and advising various NGOs such as Liberty, Justice, the Advice Services Alliance and the Inquest Lawyers Group.
1998 winner: Two Garden Court Chambers
Nominated for their work in representing bereaved families at Inquests, in assisting asylum seekers at Immigration & Social Security Appeals, an impressive commitment to Privy Council 'death row' cases and numerous criminal cases in the Court of Appeal where leave or legal aid had been refused.
1997 winner: Judith Farbey
An Immigration practitioner nominated by solicitors for her commitment in a number of asylum cases, and undertaking lengthy and complex cases for the Free Representation Unit – as well as assisting the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the Turnpike Lane Advice Bureau.