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.

Renewal of referral agency subscription

If you did not receive your renewal invoice by email by 30th April then please contact the office on

New referral agency subscription

There is a small annual subscription fee of £50, which allows you to refer any number of cases.  The process of becoming a referral agency is very straight forward.  Please complete our application form.  We are currently experiencing issues with our online subscription form.  If you wish to refer a client please email to request an alternative form.  Upon submission of the application, you will receive an invoice for the subscription fee by email.  Once you have paid this invoice by your preferred payment method you will be able to refer cases to us. 

The fee will cover referrals made in the current financial year.  We will send a renewal invoice for the next financial year before this runs out.

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 online referral form.  

Please note we have updated our referral policy in two key ways:

  • We are accepting Social Security cases with 10 days to go before the hearing, rather than the normal 14. We understand that things are more difficult for both Appellants and referral agencies.
  • We are not accepting Employment cases lasting longer than four days.

We are accepting a typed signature from the client on the referral form. We will take that to mean that they have understood and accepted our terms and conditions.

Since we are working in a hybrid model, most contact with clients will be by phone and email. If you are referring a client who will find this difficult please let us know so we can make arrangements.

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. 

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?.

If you have any difficulty in completing the online referral form or there is anything we can do to help, please do get in touch.  Our telephone line is open from 2pm to 4pm on working days - 020 7611 9555 or you can contact our administrator by email here.  

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.