Benjamin Salmon, Deputy News Editor
The University of Bristol’s student-run Law Clinic will start providing legal advice and representation for bereaved families at inquests.
In a move that is a first of its kind to be seen at a British university, the Clinic has already taken on the first such case and with the aim of providing free legal counsel to families who have lost students during the University’s ongoing mental health crisis.
Supervised by Sumayyah Malna, a qualified solicitor and a specialist in inquests, Bristol law students will provide the advice, which is not otherwise automatically unavailable during inquests.
Speaking to The Times, Ms Malna said: ‘We hope our team will address this imbalance, and look forward to receiving any referrals or expressions of interest from potential clients.’
The announcement comes as the University community continues to deal with a mental health crisis amongst the students.
It is hoped that the offer of counsel will encourage bereaved parents who would not have otherwise pursued cases due to financial constraints to feel they can access justice.
Matt Bennett, a law postgraduate and participant in the project, also told The Times that government legal aid cuts created an ‘uneven playing field’ where families often find it hard to find answers after the death of their loved ones.
He continued: We hope that by using this experience to launch this new service, we will improve access to justice for bereaved families.’
The University of Bristol’s Law Clinic is one of the largest in the South-West and is a growing source of pro bono legal aid for many across the region who would not otherwise be able to access expensive legal counsel.
In the 2017/18 academic year, the Clinic received 300 enquiries and took on over 200 cases.
Featured image: Epigram/ Cameron Scheijde