Students are to launch a law clinic offering free legal services to those who cannot afford to pay.

The students from Edinburgh Napier University said they made the move after learning that many of the poorest people in society may not be able to afford to pay for legal services or have restricted access to lawyers.

There are concerns many will be further denied access to justice because of Scottish Government reforms of the sheriff court appeals systems.

The Edinburgh Napier Law Clinic now also intends to provide small claims representation in circumstances where the client does not qualify, or only partially qualifies, for legal aid.

The venture is being supported by MacRoberts LLP, Anderson Strathern LLP and Ennova Law, whose solicitors will volunteer their time to supervise the clinic’s activities.

As well as providing free legal services to the people of Edinburgh, the clinic will also provide an opportunity for law students at Edinburgh Napier to gain relevant legal experience, complementing their undergraduate programmes.

All of the student advisers will participate in a training programme, part of which will be delivered by leading experts in clinical legal education.

Martin Kotsev, a joint managing director of the project with Gergana Chausheva and Agnieszka Zakrzewska, said: “We are grateful to Edinburgh Napier University for funding, housing and supporting our project.”

Ms Chausheva said "We provide an opportunity to all law students in Napier University to join the clinic.

"At the moment our team consist of 25 students volunteers and most of them are second and third year.

"The clinic will be operational in three law areas: employment, housing and consumer contract law.

"We will advise only clients who do not qualify for legal aid or need to make a significant contribution towards it, which they cannot afford to pay.

"We had our training programme in September and we expect to start working with clients later in October."

She added: "We are funded by the Edinburgh Napier University, in the future we plan to start organising fundraising events.

"The students will operate from a room in our Craiglockhart campus at first, though they are in negotiations about locations closer to the city centre.

"They will be able to offer advice on employment issues such as potential unfair dismissals, issues of reinstatement and housing such as tenancy agreements, disputes around deposits and tenants rights and consumer issues - basically anything you can buy."

The services will be open to the general public but by appointment only, mainly at first through Citizens Advice Bureaux referrals.

They are keen to offer services to people unable to access legal advice, and to give students practical frontline experience.