social justice through legal advice,
policy, training and
award for Law Centre immigration adviser
Lois Hamilton, immigration legal adviser at Law
has won the
Marsh Christian Award from
Human Trafficking Foundation
for outstanding achievement in the field of
She received her award at the House of Lords on 17 October from Brian Marsh
OBE. She travelled to London again the following week for
the launch of a book of which she is co-author,
Human Trafficking Handbook: Recognising
Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery in the UK,
published by Lexis Nexis.
How will welfare reform hit incomes in Northern Ireland?
Find out at the Law Centre AGM and seminar on Friday
James Browne of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Question time panel:
Eileen Evason, Chair of the Social Security
Standards Committee and Anne McCleary, Head of
Social Security Policy and Legislation Division, DSD.
Where: Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary
When: 9 December, 10am to 1pm, followed by
For more details or to register, contact Ann
New proposals on
With financial support from the Nuffield Foundation,
the Law Centre commissioned further
research from Brian Thompson and Gráinne McKeever as
a follow up to their report, published last year,
Redressing Tribunal Users’ Disadvantage – Proposals
for Tribunal Reform in Northern Ireland. The
original report had identified research gaps, which
are now addressed in two reports, Structural
Tribunal Reform and Supporting Tribunal Users.
The paper versions are still at the printer’s. Here
is a sneak preview:
Structural Tribunal Reform in Northern Ireland, Proposals by Brian Thompson, School of Law,
University of Liverpool, published by Law Centre
Supporting Tribunal Users, Access to pre-hearing information, advice and
support in Northern Ireland, by Grainne McKeever,
School of Law, University of Ulster, published by
Law Centre (NI)
In October, we met the Council of Europe's expert
group on trafficking (GRETA) as part of its fact finding mission.
We gave evidence on how to make better provision for
supporting the needs of victims of trafficking in
On 3 November, we held a seminar with senior
officials from Department for Social Development, Social Security Agency and Department
for Employment and Learning on the
impact of the
welfare reform bill. The discussion centered on
how the Northern Ireland variant of the bill, expected
to come to the Assembly in the new year, could to be
tailored to reflect local circumstances.
Pictured above are
Les Allamby, Director, Law Centre
Anne McCleary, Director of Social Security
Policy and Legislation, DSD;
Jim Russell, Head of
Employment Service, DEL;
Laura Niwa, Policy Officer,
Law Centre (NI); and
Dr Colin Sullivan, Director for
Universal Credit, SSA.
Some places left in our November and December
courses. Don’t miss your chance.
All our courses carry CPD points for solicitors,
barristers and CAB advisers.
7 and 14 November
Intro to Immigration Law
16 and 17 November
Challenging Tax Credit Decisions: Overpayments
1/2 day, Belfast
Mental Health Law
Welfare Rights Adviser Programme Disability Benefits
1/2 day, Belfast
Mental Health Law
For more details, contact
or visit our website:
safety whistle-blowing and unfair dismissal
The Law Centre recently negotiated £1,700
compensation for a driver who had been dismissed for
his refusal to drive a lorry that he believed to be
As the vehicle's reversing lights, rear spotlight
and warning siren were out of order, other road
users or pedestrians had no way to know that it was
about to reverse. Our client had drawn the danger to
his employer's attention. After a near-miss with
another vehicle, he had told the employer that he
would not drive the vehicle again until it was
fixed, as he believed it posed a threat to health
and safety and that he would be breaking the law
driving it. The employer dismissed him for the stand
he had taken, even though another driver nearly had
an accident with the lorry involving a pedestrian
due to these defects.
As the client had not been employed for a year he
could not claim ordinary unfair dismissal, and it
appeared that this had been a factor in the employer
believing that he could be dismissed easily. However
we lodged claims of automatic unfair dismissal on
his behalf, which do not require a year's service.
Where an employee is dismissed because s/he has made
a report about a health and safety issue or taken
certain action to avoid an imminent risk to health
and safety, then an automatic unfair dismissal claim
can arise. It can also be automatic unfair dismissal
where an employee is dismissed because s/he has made
a public interest disclosure – 'blown the whistle'-
that s/he believes the law is being broken.
Our client managed to get another job fairly
quickly, but was very angry at the way his employer
had behaved and the attitude that had been taken to
his legitimate concerns.
The employers contacted us very quickly after legal
proceedings were issued and agreed to compensate our
client for his loss (£1,700) and to carry out a full
review of their systems for dealing with reporting
of health and safety issues.
The protections for health and safety reports and
whistleblowers are of vital importance in ensuring
that workers feel that they can draw attention to
dangerous situations or illegal behaviour.