Bar Pro Bono Award 2016 winner announced

19 October 2016

John Collins of Zenith Chambers has won this year's Bar Pro Bono Award for his outstanding contribution to pro bono work over a career spanning six decades. 

John's commitment to pro bono work seems to know no bounds and in the last five years alone he has worked on 11 cases for the Bar Pro Bono Unit. His work is a testament to his enduring and long-standing commitment to securing justice for those who cannot afford legal representation. 

John has distinguished himself as a pro bono lawyer representing in relation to Ilott v Mitson [2015] EWCA Civ 797  brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. John was referred this case by the BPBU in 2010 and he continues to represent the applicant to this day which is taking him all the way to the Supreme Court.   

Another recent case which was brought to the attention of the judges was Bell v Northumbria Water [2016] EWHC 133. HH Judge Saffaman commented on the indefatigable commitment of John to his clients saying "The commitment in time that Mr Collins has clearly put into this complicated case, reflected in the skill with which he presented it, is patently enormous. To have done so on a pro bono basis should and does attract much gratitude from the court". 

John leads by example and is instrumental in encouraging junior members of chambers to involve themselves in pro bono work. It is for the legacy that he is creating, together with ongoing commitment to pro bono work that he has been awarded this accolade. 

Lord Goldsmith, the Bar Pro Bono Unit President and Chair of the Award judging panel said: 

"John Collins colleague, and nominator, summed it up well: "Due to his influence and his support of the BPBU I, and other junior barristers, also take on cases through the BPBU.  He has established a legacy in Chambers, not just for being an incredibly bright and able barrister but as someone who is incredible kind, who gives his time to help others and encourages the rest of us to do the same." 

It is clear that John's commitment to pro bono and access to justice is felt keenly by his colleagues, and he has become a great ambassador for the BPBU and pro bono generally.  

The Bar Pro Bono Unit matches members of the public who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford legal help with a barrister. With over 3,600 volunteer barristers on their panel which includes a third of all QCs in England and Wales and after 20 years, the Unit remains one of the few free legal advice charities that covers every area of law, across all courts for members of the public who would otherwise have no avenue to access justice. 

Editor's notes:

Bar Pro Bono Award judges 2015:

Lord Goldsmith QC - Chairman of the Judging Panel

Julie Bishop - Director of the Law Centres Network

Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC - Chairman of the Bar

Aoife Drudy - Senior Lawyer of the Government Legal Department

Nicholas Hill - Chair of the Institute of Barristers' Clerks

Christine Kings - Co-Chair of the Legal Practice Management Association

Louisa Nye - Chair of the Young Barristers' Committee 

Judging Criteria

When judging the nominations the panel had regard to, among other matters and where applicable to the particular nomination, the following: 

(a) the commitment of time by the barrister or chambers

(b) the importance of the assistance given

(c) innovation, inspiration or example in the work undertaken

(d) commitment to the pro bono ethic. 

For further information or queries contact the Fundraising and Communications Team,

Full list of nominees can be found on the Bar Pro Bono Unit website: 

National Pro Bono Week (7-11 November 2016) event details: