The bar’s pro bono unit has praised the barristers who acted for seven years free of charge on the case behind today's Supreme Court judgment on a challenge to a will. 

John Collins, of Zenith Chambers, Hardwicke Chambers’ Brie Stevens-Hoare QC and Constance McDonnell of Serle Court Chambers all worked on the Ilott case.

Collins spent nearly seven years on the case after being allocated to represent Heather Ilott in 2010.

‘We take the opportunity to emphasise that those barristers who take cases pro bono are not paid, whatever the result of the case. They are not even reimbursed their travelling expenses,’ the unit said.

‘Mrs Ilott was first allocated John Collins as her pro bono barrister in 2010; he has remained with the case until today, joined by Brie Stevens-Hoare QC and Constance McDonnell. All of who have given their time pro bono.’

The Supreme Court today accepted an appeal by three animal charities against an earlier Court of Appeal ruling on Ilott's award.

The court unanimously ruled that the appeal court erred when calculating reasonable financial provision in the will.

Ilott had challenged her estranged mother’s decision not to award her anything in her will under the Inheritance Act 1975.

Ilott’s mother Melita Jackson, from whom she had become estranged, left most of her estate, worth around £500,000, to the Blue Cross, the RSPCA and the RSPB. District Judge Clive Million awarded Ilott £50,000 in the county court.

Ilott appeal against this and was awarded £143,000 - to buy the rented home she was living in - plus an extra £20,000 for additional income.

The charities appealed against the subsequent ruling but today’s judgment restored Million’s original ruling.

The pro bono unit told the Gazette it receives around 180 cases per month and that barristers helped 850 times on cases throughout 2016.

‘The unit has the support of the wider bar on our duty schemes, some of which include the solicitors profession, at the Rolls Building, Court of Appeal, Family Court and employment tribunals in London and Cardiff, resulting in many more people receiving legal help from the bar and solicitors,’ it said in a statement. 

‘Whilst pro bono can never be a substitute for a properly funded legal system, the bar constantly demonstrates its core ethos of altruism and the three barristers who assisted Ilott set an extraordinary example.’