Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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

Welcome to our February 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.



Legal Support Project

Welfare reform conference

Rights in community care

Frontline 82

February/March training

Casework successes: ESA / assessment / Forced labour / Dismissal

Legal Support Project lifts off

Legal Support Project logo

The Law Centre’s Legal Support Project will be formally launched on 1 March at the Law Society, in an event sponsored by Allen & Overy.

The Honourable Mr Justice Stephens, Karen MacKay, Chief Executive, FRU (Free Representation Unit) and Sinead Mulhern, Law Centre (NI), will speak at the event.

The project will provide advice and representation in social security appeals and industrial tribunals.

The Law Centre’s specialist social security and employment units currently focus on those cases that are particularly complex, often raising new and previously untested points of law. They will continue to do this. The project, by contrast, will deal with more mainstream cases where the legal principles are already established.

For more info, email:  


Joint conference on welfare reform

Empowerment not poverty placard

In light of the imminent changes and potential negative consequences for a substantial proportion of the citizens in Northern Ireland, Law Centre (NI) and NICVA will be hosting a welfare reform conference on Tuesday 6 March 2012 at NICVA from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

The conference will give members of the voluntary and community sector an opportunity to hear from and directly engage with prominent decision-makers, policy-makers and eminent contributors to the welfare reform debate.

Click here for further information on the conference and to book a place.

Places are limited so it is advised to book early.


A vision for community care

RICC report cover

Rights in Community Care (RICC) includes Age NI; Alzheimer’s Society; Carers Northern Ireland; Disability Action; Law Centre (NI) and UNISON.  RICC supports a human rights-based approach to the delivery of community care.  In 2010-2012, RICC held a series of seminars themed: ‘A Vision for Community Care.’ Each seminar explored a topic of particular relevance to adult social care and a range of speakers were invited to present.  RICC has now compiled a report on the four seminars which is available to view here:  RICC report 2011


Frontline 82 out now

Frontline 82 cover fireplace

With a special focus on addressing poverty, the winter edition of our social welfare law magazine is now online. Read Frontline 82 here.


Register now for Feb/March courses

European directive course 2011

We still have some places on the following courses:

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

1 March: Challenging social security overpayment decisions - Belfast

7 March: Children and young people in the immigration system - Belfast

20 March: Commissioner Appeals - Belfast

21 March: Benefits for carers - Derry

28 March: Benefits for Carers - Belfast

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

For more details, contact, 7126 2433

or visit our website:


ESA refusal overturned on appeal

In a recent case, we convinced an appeal tribunal to overturn a decision to refuse Employment and Support Allowance to a woman with severe learning difficulties.  She had scored 0 points under the mental health descriptors of the Work Capability Assessment and was described by the Healthcare Professional as having ‘normal cognitive function but slow mental processes’, despite evidence from her social worker that she had been clinically assessed as having an IQ of 65, within the bottom one percent of the population, in relation to her cognitive abilities.

At the appeal tribunal, she was awarded 36 points and successfully passed the threshold for an award of ESA at the work related activity group level.


Trafficked fishermen granted residence

We have obtained residence permits for three Ghanaian fishermen who were subjected to labour exploitation.  They had been rescued by the PSNI from the boat where they were working and identified as victims of human trafficking under the National Referral Mechanism.  The referral of another Ghanaian man who was rescued from the same boat is currently being processed.

The National Referral Mechanism is the UK government’s framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive protection and support.


Construction worker reinstated

We recently settled a case for a construction worker who was made redundant without any consultation or statutory procedures being followed.  He was reinstated with full back pay and continuity of service preserved and is happy to be back working with his employer.