Pro bono costs provide vital funding for free legal help. Before 2008, legal costs could not be awarded in cases where the winning party was represented for free. Section 194 of the Legal Services Act 2007 changed this.
Pro bono costs are just like ordinary legal costs, but applicable where a party received free legal representation. If a civil case is won with pro bono help, pro bono costs can be ordered by the court, or included in settlements. The free legal help may be provided by any lawyer in the proceedings.
The costs cover any period when free representation was provided and the amount is based on what a paying client would recover.
The costs must be paid to the prescribed charity, the Access to Justice Foundation, which distributes the money to agencies and projects that give free legal help to those in need. Front line agencies responsible for obtaining pro bono costs can expect to receive up to 50% of the costs recovered.