Broadcast: News items

CLOCK Legal Companions are now offering remote support for litigants in person

Areeb Mushtaq Ahmad

Maisy Grimes

What is CLOCK? 

CLOCK was first launched in 2012 by the School of Law at Keele University and is now implemented in several universities in the UK. The project trains students to assist litigants in person who do not have access to legal aid in the Family and County Court in Brighton and online. 

Students help litigants in person to: 

  • Complete court forms
  • Signpost to CLOCK partners (among others law firms, mediation providers, Citizens Advice, CAFCASS, RISE)
  • Assist during the hearings by taking notes and with the preparation of legal bundles

The project has significant impact on students; litigants; and courts and has a place on the Sussex Family Law Justice Board. The project has received several public endorsements including by the President of the Family Division.

Jeanette Ashton, Maria Moscati from the Law School and Alex Newbury from University of Brighton lead CLOCK.

During the current pandemic, we can offer, depending on availability, two forms of assistance:

  • A telephone meeting with you, to assist with form-filling, signposting to charities and service providers and help you with your paperwork and the court process; and 
  • Assistance in remote court hearings, and, where appropriate, CAFCASS meetings directly before the hearing, where we attend the hearing and take notes for you.  Please note we are not able to advocate for you.  After the hearing we can follow up with a telephone call to discuss next steps if that would be helpful.

Areeb Mushtaq Ahmad, Law (LLB) with International Relations student who is entering his final year in September reflects on his contribution to the CLOCK project.

"Working for CLOCK in partnership with the Sussex Legal Clinic has been a very practical experience. This was a great chance to change possibilities into opportunities, as unlike many commercial organizations, this was a fully committed pro-bono project. This gave me a great sense of social consciousness and cause. I am proud to have been a part of a great team where socio-economically marginalized litigants were assisted in times of absolute distress.

"Litigants comprised of single parents and individuals with disabilities. There was acceptance of responsibility by everyone on the CLOCK project. Litigants were assisted in finding affordable or even free legal advice through our partner family and city law firms. The whole aim was to support hardworking citizens with a sense of ownership in times of distress. Many litigants who were representing themselves were assisted, all the way from taking notes in a hearing to just being there as a friendly companion in court during a stressful trial. 

"This was indeed a way of promoting the importance of legal-aid across the country as well, which shall allow individuals to have the chance to afford legal services that they need."   

Maisy Grimes, a Law student entering her final year in September, talks about her experience of volunteering for CLOCK.

“CLOCK has given me the opportunity to gain confidence in a court setting as well as gaining a practical insight into how hard the system is for those without legal aid. Being in CAFCASS meetings, hearings and appointments with litigants has provided the opportunity to have hands-on experience, whilst giving students the ability to actually help those who have been affected by legal aid cuts. I’m glad that this can continue with the remote service where we have appointments mostly over the phone.” 

Looking forward

CLOCK is now committed to contribute to the aims of the Centre for Cultures of Reproduction, Health and Technologies and to investigate ways of offering support and training to our students to enable them to offer support on sexual reproductive health and rights. 

Together with the Sussex Law Clinics, CLOCK has won the 2019 Learning Together Teaching Award. 

Posted on behalf of: Dr Maria Federica Moscati and Jeanette Ashton
Last updated: Thursday, 23 July 2020