Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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

Welcome to our December 2011 e-newsletter 

We hope you find this information useful and that you can join us for our AGM this Friday. 

Please circulate this e-newsletter to interested colleagues.  If it does not display properly, follow this link to the HTML version.




Reminder: AGM 2011

LSP seeks volunteers

Child Tax Credit

Training at Law Centre (NI)

Migrant workers guide

Reminder: AGM 2011

Last chance to book your place at the Law Centre’s AGM and seminar:

How will welfare reform hit incomes in Northern Ireland? 

When: This Friday 9 December, 10am to 1pm, followed by lunch

Where: Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action

Speaker: 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 Policy and Legislative Division, DSD.

Register with Ann Cartwright:


Legal Support Project seeks volunteers

LSP Project Worker Owen McCloskey

Expressions of interest have opened for volunteering with the Law Centre's new Legal Support Project. This service will provide free representation to those who do not have access to representation in employment and social security appeal tribunals. We will train and support volunteers to undertake this representation.

The Project will be of particular interest to law graduate advisers and newly qualified lawyers as this will be an opportunity to gain valuable representation experience.  We are also looking for experienced solicitors and barristers to support the work of the project by undertaking some pro bono work.  You can get more information on the project here.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Legal Support Project, please complete the application form and return it to:

Head of Legal Support Project, Law Centre (NI), 124 Donegall Street Belfast, BT1 4GY.

Completed applications may be typed or handwritten.

You can also contact Sinead Mulhern (Head of Legal Support Project) to find out more about the project before submitting your application: Phone 028 9024 4401.

Pictured above is Owen McCloskey, Project Worker for the Legal Support Project.


Resolving delays in Child Tax Credit

Law Centre social security advisers have recently dealt with cases of delays in payment of Child Tax Credit linked with the national insurance number (NINO) requirement.  These cases, where delays sometimes lead to extreme hardship, can actually be resolved fairly quickly once people are aware that HMRC is able to waive the requirement in some cases.

In a recent case, our client contacted Law Centre (NI) for assistance in dealing with HMRC Child Tax Credit which had been withdrawn when she had moved in with her Romanian fiancé.

She had been receiving Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance along with Child Tax Credit for her ten year old son.  When she and her fiancé moved in together she promptly notified HMRC of the change in her circumstances.  Her fiancé did not have a national insurance number and although HMRC can waive the requirement for a NINO in such cases, when she contacted Law Centre (NI) she had not received CTC for her son for more than four months despite numerous phone calls and complaints.

We wrote to the legal department of HMRC and stated the intention to seek Judicial Review if the CTC claim was not re-instated within fourteen days and payments backdated.  The family was experiencing extreme financial hardship as CTC makes up more than a third of their disposable income.

Our client was delighted when HMRC sorted out her claim and paid arrears within the fourteen days.


Refresh your skills at the Law Centre


WRAP training session

12 January Challenging Social Services Decisions - Derry

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

18 January Challenging Social Services Decisions - Belfast

Also coming up:

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: 

Tel: 028 7126 2433

Or visit our website:


Law Centre discusses welfare reform with All-Party Groups on disability

Law Centre (NI) Policy Officer Laura Niwa with members of NI Assembly All Party Groups on disability

For the first time, the Assembly' All-Party Groups on Learning Disability, Visual Impairments and Disability have held a joint meeting to discuss the impact of Welfare Reform on people with disabilities living in Northern Ireland.
The 29 November meeting gave MLAs Patsy McGlone SDLP, Jim Wells DUP, Mark Durkan SDLP and Chris Lyttle Alliance a chance to hear from people with a disability, family carers and representatives of the disability sector about
the impact of welfare reform.

The groups expressed concerns about changes to Housing Benefit, Disability Living Allowance and other benefits and highlighted the need for proper parliamentary scrutiny by the Northern Ireland Assembly when the proposals come to Northern Ireland in 2012. 

Presentations were given by Paul McGowan of MENCAP, Ricky Rowledge, Council for the Homeless NI, Laura Niwa, Law Centre (NI), Kevin Doherty, Disability Action and Harry Reid, Royal National Institute for the Blind.


Migrant workers guide

The English version of Your Rights in Northern Ireland, a guide for migrant workers, has been updated.

The four original guides (for EEA, A8, A2 nationals and work permit holders) have been merged into one document.  You can find it here.

This is a joint Law Centre (NI) and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission production, with support from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.  We hope to be able to update translations in the new year, subject to funding.