Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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

Welcome to our April 2012 e-newsletter. If it does not display properly, follow this link to the HTML version.

We hope you find the information useful.  Please circulate it to interested colleagues. 

Our immigration unit has just published a briefing arguing for mutually recognised visas or single visa for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Read Strengthening the Common Travel Area here.



New training programme

May and June  courses

Benefit rates 2012-13

Consultation respons

Community care cases

DLA and immigration control

Welfare reform conference highlights

NEW: training programme 2012-13

Cover photo of training programme 2012: trainees on WRAP course Law Centre (NI)

Download the Law Centre’s training programme for 2012-2013 here.

New courses for 2012-13

- The Rights of Agency Workers;

- Personal Independence Payment;

- Understanding Universal Credit and Other Changes;

- Immigration Law and People Trafficking;

You can book some courses together to save 20%.


Enrol now for May and June training

Participants in Tribunal Representation Course Law Centre (NI)

3 May: Welfare Rights Adviser Programme, Belfast (eight days)

15 May: European Law and Immigration, Belfast

16 May: European Law and Social Security Update, Belfast

23 May: Introduction to Mental Health Law, Derry

30 May: Introduction to Mental Health Law, Belfast

8 June: Immigration Law and Criminal Justice, Belfast

20 June: Financing Residential Care, Belfast

27 June: Pregnancy and Benefits, Belfast

26 June: Financing Residential Care, Derry

29 June: Immigration Law and People Trafficking, Belfast

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

For more details, contact, 7126 2433 or view our training programme



Benefit and tax credit rates 2012-13 online

The new rates for most benefits and tax credits, applicable from 6 April, are now on our website.  Find them here: Benefit Rates 2012-2013


Bereavement Benefit consultation

In its response to the DSD's consultation 'Bereavement Benefit for the 21st Century, Law Centre (NI) expresses concern that this reform represents further erosion of the national insurance contributory principle and recommends further debate around the role of insurance-based benefits and increased reliance on means-tested benefits.

Read our response here: DSD consultation on 'Bereavement Benefit for the 21st Century'


Residential care and right to family life

We recently resolved a guardianship issue on behalf of a young adult with severe learning disabilities who has lived in residential care for over ten years.   Her family was returning to live in England and wanted her to move to a care facility near their new home.  The trust objected to her moving and placed her under guardianship. The family had to leave without her. 

We wrote to the trust, arguing a potential breach of the client’s human right to liberty (Article 5), her right to respect for her family life (Article 8) and a misuse of guardianship power.   After further action on behalf of our client, the trust removed the guardianship order and started consultation with the appropriate authorities in England to organise her move.


Failure to provide adequate care package

We also assisted a family with a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office.

The case involved an elderly patient who wished to be discharged home from hospital rather than go into residential care. The trust only offered a minimal care package and, in order to continue living at home she was forced to buy care privately at significant cost.  This depleted all her savings.  

Sadly, our client died before Judicial Review proceedings could be lodged but we helped her niece with a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office. The Ombudsman found that there had been maladministration, including a failure to properly assess our client’s needs on discharge and thereafter to document the risks to her, to follow relevant guidelines and procedures in relation to the care planning process and to carry out and adequately record reviews of the care plan subsequent to her discharge from hospital.  

An apology was made to the family and a small compensation payment awarded.



DLA and immigration control

C29/09-10 (DLA)

In a recent case taken to the social security commissioner’s, we ascertained that a person subject to immigration control can claim Disability Living Allowance if s/he is the family member of a UK national.

The commissioner considered a GB decision that EEA national must be interpreted to mean an EEA national who is exercising treaty rights (ie travelling to another EEA country to work, or being a dual UK/Irish national).  The Commissioner found that decision to be incorrect and refused to follow it in this case.


Welfare reform: relive the debate


If you missed the joint Law Centre (NI)/NICVA conference on welfare reform, you can watch highlights on NICVA's website: