Who we are

 

We empower people facing court alone

Every year, thousands of people in the UK face court alone. Often through no choice of their own, they must represent themselves at a moment that could determine the rest of their life. They may face divorce, eviction from their home, or the loss of their children. In an unfamiliar courtroom, up against a party with legal representation, the process can be stressful and confusing.

We stand with those who have nowhere else to turn. We provide a free service across England and Wales, offering support and guidance before, during, and after court. We make sure people facing court are not alone, and help them navigate a complex legal system with dignity and self-assurance. Our 600+ volunteers help clients to feel clear about what they need to do when they have no option but to represent themselves. We ensure that those facing court alone feel prepared and supported in accessing justice.

Our Trustees

  • Chair: Caroline Artis - Caroline has been a partner at EY since 1998, and is part of the UK leadership team and Office Managing partner for London.
  • David Wilkin - David is an Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research and a magistrate with extensive experience as a charity trustee in various non-executive roles, including as Chair of Manchester CAB
  • Samantha Gargaro - Samantha is a Solicitor with extensive experience of working in private practice. She is currently Director of Birmingham City University Law Clinic.
  • Tim Nash - Tim is Chief Executive of Edwin Coe LLP.
  • Stephen Adler – Stephen is one of our service volunteers in London and has been a Magistrate in both the criminal and family courts and is also  family mediator. Previously, he ran his own management consultancy, advising at Board and Senior Executive level on strategic, operational and business decisions. 
  • Alexander Hulbert - Alex has been a solicitor for a decade in matrimonial and private affairs, and is now a Director and Chief Operating Officer for one of the country's most respected litigation lending businesses.
  • Anthony Fincham - Before retiring in 2019, Anthony was a partner at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang from 1984. 
  • Kay-Dene Petgrave - Currently a Solicitor at Fieldfisher LLP, specialising in high profile public inquiries, inquests and investigations.
  • Robert Pitt- Robert is one of our volunteers at both the Central Family Court and the Royal Courts of Justice. He is also a management consultant with extensive experience of developing and implementing business and technology strategy and driving business change.
  • Zubair Chaudhry - Zubair joined HMRC in 2014, now working as a tax litigator in the Solicitors' Office. Since 2019, he has also sat as a Magistrate.
  • Ben Moore - Ben is a Civil Servant currently working as Head of Cross-Cutting Strategy at the Ministry of Justice. Before that, he has worked in a range of policy and strategy roles and completed the Civil Service Fast Stream, where he spent 6 months on secondment at Support Through Court.  
  • Helen Lawrence – Helen volunteers at the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester and for the National Helpline.  Before retirement in 2018 she worked for HMCTS, latterly as Clerk to the Justices for Cumbria and Lancashire. 

Leadership Team

Our Patrons

  • Martin Lewis CBE
  • The Rt Hon The Baroness Hale of Richmond
  • The Rt Hon Sir Terence Etherton
  • The Rt Hon The Lady Butler-Sloss       
  • The Rt Hon Lord Dyson        
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Neuberger         
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers             
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Thomas       
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Woolf     
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Burnett of Maldon
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Reed of Allermuir, President of the Supreme Court       

 Liaison Judge

  • The Rt Hon Dame Sarah Asplin

Business Board

Our Business Board champion the work we do, supporting us in various ways, but primarily through linking us with communities, businesses and organisations passionate about access to justice. Current members are:

  • Tim Nash, CEO of Edwin Coe
  • Wilf White, Director of Engagement and Public Engagement at the Bar Standards Board
  • Nick Luckman, Practice Director at Wilberforce Chambers
  • Asim Butt - 25 years at a top 50 law firm previously as a director of motor and counter-fraud claims solutions, sitting on their executive board and now as a consultant.

Our Founder

In 2001, Diana Copisarow OBE was working as a volunteer at the Old Bailey Witness Service when she received a call from Lord Woolf, then Lord Chief Justice, asking if she could help a woman, terrified of going through the ordeal of a civil case, all alone, in the Royal Courts of Justice. The criminal courts offered support ranging from police chaperones to the Witness Service so why was there nothing for people in the civil courts where there was such great need? Diana decided to set up a civil equivalent to the Witness Service. With the help of Lord Woolf and others, she founded the first Personal Support Unit within the Royal Courts of Justice.