Crowdfunding may be the future of improved access to justice, after Salvos Legal became the first firm to use crowdfunding on a pro bono case.
On a highly compelling, public interest case, the lawyers at Salvos Legal have tapped into the humanitarian side of the community.
Using crowdfunding, the firm has raised money to help a Bangladeshi man obtain an Australian visa and remain with his wife, after his attempt to prove his genuine refugee status unrepresented, failed.
Salvos Legal believe the man to be a genuine refugee. Despite this, he is full time-carer to his wife, who suffers from a number of serious health problems.
Having launched a project only six days ago, the community has already pledged over $5,000 of the $11,500 needed to settle disbursements incurred and allow him to stay with his Australian wife.
“The power of crowd is just enormous,” said Salvos Legal managing partner Luke Geary, adding that the profile of the case had been widely pushed on social media since launching.
“This is a real option.
“There have been some other cases in the past where people have great case but not been able to run them because you’re up against a deep pocketed defendant and you don’t have any money. The typical firms that run things on a no win no fee basis sometimes can’t carry disbursements, for example.”
In Australia, crowdfunding for a social cause remains a free market, despite increased regulation for crowdfunding used for capital raising.
The crowdfunding has been facilitated by act., a division of Community Sector Banking. Amanda Watt, head of banking and business at act., said that the project would make a profound difference to the lives of this man and his family, adding that the couple need the community’s help as much as compassion.
“act. is getting behind this project because the actions of a few people towards raising these funds can make such a huge difference,” she said.
“We support the work of Salvos Legal Humanitarian, who help the disadvantaged in society who often face huge battles.”