Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

promoting social justice through legal advice,
representation, policy, training and publications

Welcome to our January 2012 e-newsletter.

We hope you find the information useful.  Please circulate it to interested colleagues.  If it does not display properly, follow this link to the HTML version.



New year training

Migrant workers guide

Welfare reform discussion

Tribunal reform

Benefits and right to reside

New year, new training

Social Security Advice course tutors

17 January - 06 March Welfare Rights Adviser programme (WRAP) - Belfast

18 January Challenging Social Services Decisions - Belfast

8-9 February: Employment Law – Belfast

15 February: Social Security – Seeking Work, Other Requirements and Sanctions – Belfast

15-16 February: Employment Law - Derry

16 February: Mental Health and Criminal Justice – Belfast

22 February: Legal Research Skills for Advisers - Derry

29 February: Legal Research Skills for Advisers - Belfast

All our courses carry CPD points for solicitors, barristers and CAB advisers.

For more details, contact, 7126 2433

or visit our website:


Migrant workers guide launched

Michael O' Flaherty, Virginia McVeigh ad Les Allamby

The Law Centre and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have launched the new revised and updated version of their online guide to the rights of migrant workers, with support from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Les Allamby, Law Centre (NI) Director, Michael O’Flaherty, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and Virginia McVeigh, Director of the Commission, launched the guide on 19 December, to mark International Migrants Day.

The guide helps migrant workers and their families understand their rights, entitlements and responsibilities while in Northern Ireland and to ensure that they receive the right advice if they encounter any problems.

The English version of the guide is available on the Law Centre’s website ( now.  It is due to be translated into the languages most used by new migrants to Northern Ireland.

Download the English version of Your Rights in NI


Welfare reform, recession and cuts discussed at Law Centre AGM

AGM speakers Les Allamby, Ursula O'Hare, Eileen Evason, Anne McCleary, James Browne

At the Law Centre AGM on 9 December, James Browne, senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, explained how families with children and those on Disability Living Allowance will be particularly affected by welfare reform.

Eileen Evason, Chair of the Social Security Standards Committee, stressed the impact on communities already stricken by the recession and expressed concern that, in the current climate, increased conditionality and stricter work capability assessments are counterproductive.

Anne McCleary, Head of Policy and Legislative Division, DSD, recognised the concerns expressed by trade unions and voluntary groups and argued that welfare reform will be applied sensitively.

Les Allamby celebrated the year’s achievements and outlined the challenges ahead, in a context of major cuts in funding for the sector and public expenditure, challenging welfare and judicial reforms and increased demand on advice services.

Sinead Mulhern, Head of the Law Centre’s new Legal Support Project, explained plans to develop pro-bono social security and employment work.

Jennifer Greenfield, new Assistant Director (Casework and Training), presented certificates to successful candidates of Law Centre accredited courses.


Tribunal reform

Grainne McKeever and Siobhan Broderick

Last month, the Department of Justice for Northern Ireland issued a discussion document which draws on many of the themes discussed in two research reports recently published by the Law Centre and authored by Gráinne McKeever, School of Law, University of Ulster, and Brian Thompson, School of Law, University of Liverpool. 

The reports aim to contribute to the plans for tribunal reform which are currently being developed by the Department.

Gráinne McKeever presented copies of her report, Supporting Tribunal Users, and Brian Thompson’s Structural Tribunal Reform in Northern Ireland to Siobhan Broderick of the Northern Ireland Court Service at an event held at the Law Centre on 15 December to discuss the Department’s proposals.

Download from our website:

Structural Tribunal Reform in Northern Ireland

Supporting Tribunal Users

or order paper copies from our Publications Unit (£4.95 and £9.95 respectively)


Benefits and right to reside for parents of schoolchildren

C211-12 (JSA)

This Latvian man worked in Northern Ireland for almost two years with the same employer before he was made redundant in the economic downturn.  He had registered his employment but as there was a gap of more than 30 days in the employment, he needed to re-register for a new twelve months period.  Neither he nor his employer understood this.

When he claimed Income-based JSA in November 2009, he was refused as he was found not to have a right to reside.  His daughter was at secondary school here and she was then taken into care, largely because her parents had no income and were homeless. 

The Law Centre represented him at an appeal which was disallowed and we appealed the decision to the social security commissioner.  The commissioner allowed the appeal and found that he did have a right to reside when he made his initial claim as he had a child at school.

We convinced the SSA to pay JSA for the period when his daughter was in care and he was looking for work.  Housing Benefit was also backdated to cover the periods for which he was paid income-based JSA.  He has successfully made a fresh claim for JSA*.

We are currently helping him with issues of substantial housing debt and legal costs of eviction that arose when he was not paid benefit. 

*Since May 2011, A8 nationals have had the same benefit entitlements as EEA nationals.