City firms are to provide advice pro bono for unrepresented individuals appearing before a Financial Conduct Authority disciplinary committee.
The pilot scheme, organised through the Financial Services Lawyers Association (FSLA), is to involve associates from Clifford Chance LLP, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Allen & Overy LLP, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Arnold & Porter LLP and Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.
They will offer services to individuals who are before the FCA's Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC).
The RDC's members represent 'the public interest', and the committee has the power to stop firms or individuals providing regulated financial services. It also levies fines for breaches of the FCA's rules and legal requirements.
According to the FCA, the RDC 'becomes involved after the relevant division of the FCA has concluded that it is appropriate for the FCA to use particular powers against a firm or individual'.
FSLA executive committee member Chris Ninan, a senior associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, said the scheme had three goals: 'To provide access to justice for those who cannot afford legal representation in a highly complex and specialised area of law. To provide valuable experience for the lawyers participating in the scheme,' and, 'to help increase the efficiency of the RDC process.'
The association expects the number of firms participating in the scheme to be increased on conclusion of the pilot.