Referring clients to FRU

The vast majority of our cases are referred to us by front-line advice agencies who subscribe to our service. A small number of employment cases can be accepted without the need for a referral.  Please see the Employment Self-Referrals page for more information.

When a case is referred we look for a volunteer to represent at the hearing. If we find a volunteer they also take responsibility for preparing the case.

Becoming a referral agency

To become a referral agency complete our application form. There is a small annual subscription fee of £50, which allows you to refer any number of cases.

If you have multiple offices, please note that a separate subscription is payable for each address from which you send us cases.

Payment for subscriptions should be made directly from the organisation wanting to become a referral agency. Please note that the Free Representation Unit will not reimburse payment of subscriptions made by individuals on behalf of an organisation. If an individual makes payment on behalf of an organisation, reimbursement will need to be sought from the organisation they are paying for.

Referring a case

To refer a case to us, complete our referral form (Version 01.17).  

From March 2017 we will only be able to accept referrals on the new form above.  Please replace all old versions in your office.

You will also need to send us the documents listed in our guidance notes. We need these to assess the case and identify a suitable volunteer.  Please note that we need to receive any referral at least 14 clear days before the tribunal hearing date.

A single page guide is also available here, together with a flow chart showing how referrals to FRU operate: Can I Refer a Case to FRU?.

Will FRU represent my client?

FRU accepts all types of benefits hearings in the First Tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement) and all hearings in the employment tribunal.

However, we can only help if we are able to find a suitable volunteer. We get more referrals than we have volunteers and cannot help every client referred to us. Unless and until a representative is found, FRU cannot take on responsibility for a case.

The sooner a case is referred to us, the longer we have to find a volunteer, and the more likely we are to be able to help. If you can, refer a case as soon as a hearing is listed.

It is much easier to find volunteers for shorter hearings, rather than longer ones (this is a particular issue in employment hearings). Once a hearing is listed for more than three days, it is very difficult to find a suitable volunteer.

Saturday Cases: At present we are unable to represent clients at hearings taking place at the weekend.

Current Situation

Social Security: In the last year, benefit referrals have increased and exceeded our capacity. Although we have helped more clients over this period, our representation rate as a percentage of cases received has fallen.   

Employment: The dramatic drop in employment tribunal cases caused by the new fee regime means that FRU has a great deal of spare capacity for shorter cases. Hearings over three days or those involving discrimination claims remain more difficult to place.