The Public Defender Service Advocacy Unit was created in 2014 and is a wholly independent, nationwide advocacy service to legal aid solicitors and their clients.
We are an expert team of highly experienced barristers and Higher Court advocates, including Queen’s Counsel (QCs). More information is published on Our Advocates page.
We specialise in serious and complex criminal cases but our advocates can cover the whole spectrum of criminal legal aid work. For more information about our service, please go to How we work.
We can represent any individual who has secured legal aid funding for their case and our advocates can be instructed by any solicitor firm in England and Wales.
The PDS Advocacy Unit operates independently from the PDS Solicitors. We have a central London office but have advocates based around the country who can cover cases throughout England and Wales, always ensuring that our clients have the most suitable advocate for their case.
How we work
We work like barristers’ chambers: if a solicitor needs advocacy services, they can instruct us to:
- advise clients on the strength of the evidence;
- appear in any court from the Magistrates Court to the Supreme Court;
- brief clients on any potential sentence or ancillary orders;
- discuss the best course of action with the client;
- provide written advice on how to progress the case; and
- if necessary, provide advice on appeal.
Solicitors will remain responsible for the litigation work involved in the case and continue to bill the Legal Aid Agency for the work they do.
We cover all areas of criminal law but currently have particular expertise in cases involving:
- murder and manslaughter
- serious organised crime
- sexual offences
Please visit Our Advocates page to view their individual skills.
Our advocates are regulated by the Bar Standards Board or Solicitors Regulation Authority and offer completely independent and impartial advocacy services.
As part of the Legal Aid Agency and wider Civil Service, we are also bound by the Civil Service Code of Conduct and are required to undertake our role independently of the government of the day. Further information can be found in our Code of Conduct.
We manage client conflicts of interest through ‘ethical walls’. This is underpinned by our protocol, based on Bar Standards Board and the Solicitors Regulation Authority guidance. A copy of our complaints procedure can be found here.