Table setting in a restaurant at night

FRU 50th Anniversary Celebration Event

We are delighted to be celebrating our 50th anniversary with a high-profile event on 8 November. The event will feature a speech by senior judge Lord Justice Underhill, Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) and FRU Patron The Secret Barrister.

The celebration is being hosted by FRU supporters 39 Essex Chambers at 6.00 on 8 November. It will also feature some of the people who, as student lawyers in 1972, founded FRU.

FRU Chief Executive David Abbott said “This is a fantastic way to complete our year of celebrations. The event will raise much needed funds to help us to secure our future for the next 50 years.

We are very grateful to Lord Justice Underhill, The Secret Barrister and our founding members for helping us to mark the contribution that FRU has made to the justice system over the last 50 years.

It would be fantastic if our supporters could join us at 39 Essex Chambers to tell us their memories of volunteering or referring cases to FRU”.

Tickets are available to attend the event in person or online. The in-person event will feature a drinks and canope reception. Full details are available at these links:

Speaker profile – Lord Justice Underhill:

We are thrilled to introduce our distinguished keynote speaker for the upcoming milestone event: Lord Justice Underhill!

With an illustrious career spanning both the employment and commercial bar, Lord Justice Underhill has continued to shine in his judicial roles.

• President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (2009-2011)

• Lord Justice of Appeal (since 2013)

• Current Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Civil Division)

His commitment to the legal profession goes beyond the courtroom. From 2002 to 2005, he served as President of the Bar Pro Bono Unit (now Advocate).

His unique perspective makes him the perfect choice to address the current landscape of the civil justice system and the invaluable role of pro bono work within it.

The Secret Barrister

The Secret Barrister is a figure who needs little introduction. Author, blogger and incognito junior criminal practitioner: in 2018, ‘SB’ published their first best-selling account of the frailties of the English and Welsh criminal justice system. The book, in its 24 weeks as Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller, imparted to a wider audience the impact of chronic underfunding in the English and Welsh justice system. Similarly, their tireless efforts to highlight the unfairness of limited legal aid provisions, has penetrated public perceptions like little else. More importantly (maybe) the TSB is also a proud patron of FRU.

In their own words: Where an individual cannot afford representation “The result is that often people are forced into a Sophie’s choice between representing themselves in complex legal proceedings, or simply not even trying. To lean on my favourite healthcare analogy, they are invited either to operate on themselves or just accept that they won’t get treatment… for those with nowhere else to turn, pro bono units provide the safety net where the state would let people fall.”

FRU are proud to provide a safety net to litigants in the Social Security and Employment Tribunals, while preparing future lawyers for life in practice.

This is why we are so pleased to announce that the Secret Barrister will be talking on the topic of ‘Access to Justice’ at our upcoming 50th Birthday.