Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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


Welcome to our July 2012 e-newsletter.  We hope that you find it useful. Please feel free to circulate to interested colleagues.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @LawCentreNI

If this newsletter does not display properly, follow this link to: July 2012 HTML version.



Frontline 84

Migrant workers guides launch

Training courses

Immigration forum

Pregnancy and unfair dismissal

Muckamore update

Frontline 84: the rise in ESA appeals

Person with walking stick

FOCUS: ESA, Incapacity Benefit migration and the important role of the advice sector


Poverty in Northern Ireland


Employment disputes

Pensioners miss out on benefits

Read Frontline 84 here.


Launch: Your Rights in Northern Ireland

Front cover of Your Rights in Northern Ireland Polish

The 2011-2012 edition of Your Rights in Northern Ireland, a guide for migrant workers, will be formally launched at the Law Centre in August. Date to be confirmed.  Invitations will be sent to all Law Centre members.  If you are not a member but think you may like to attend, you can register your interest with and an invitation will be sent out to you.


Enrol now for August to October courses

Trainers at course on trafficking and immigration June 2012

One of the highlights of our June training programme was a session on trafficking and immigration, with Klara Skrivankova of Anti-Slavery International.  Pictured (right) with Law Centre immigration legal adviser Lois Hamilton.

Forthcoming courses:

8 August: WRAP refresher – Disability Related Benefits – Belfast (half day)

15 August: WRAP refresher – Disability Related Benefits – Derry (half day)

6 September: Completing Disability Forms – DLA and ESA Best Practice – Derry

20 September: Completing Disability Forms – DLA and ESA Best Practice – Belfast

25 September: Representing Clients at Mental Health Review Tribunals – Derry

2 October: Representing Clients at Mental Health Review Tribunals – Belfast

8 October: Redundancy, Lay Off and Employer Insolvency – Belfast

9 October: Welfare Rights Adviser Programme – 8 days – Derry

25 October: Tribunal Representation – 6 days - Derry

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

For more details, visit the training section of our website, contact, 028 7126 2433 or view our training programme


North South Immigration Forum

Speakers at North South Immigration Forum Law Centre (NI) 2012

In July, a range of organisations came together to explore the barriers to free movement and opportunities for establishing a mutual/single visa between the UK and Ireland.  This follows on the Irish government's short-stay visa waiver pilot for certain UK visitor visa holders travelling from the UK to the Republic.

Professor Bernard Ryan from the University of Kent set the background to the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland. Steve Symonds, Legal Officer of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, analysed the legal and political implications of a mutual/single visa from the Westminster perspective.  Buster Cox, legal adviser at the Law Centre and Hilkka Becker, senior immigration solicitor at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, outlined the impact of the current barriers to free movement on both sides of the border. Siobhan O'Donoghue of the Migrant Rights Centre shared the findings of a recent report on ethnic profiling.

Strategies were identified for taking this issue forward, including opportunities for working with other agencies, both governments and local representatives.

Photo (left to right): Siobhan O'Donoghue, Hilkka Becker, Steve Symonds, Bernard Ryan.


Pregnancy, part-time work & redundancy

We recently acted for a secretary who worked part-time in an office for a small business.  Upon notifying her employer she was pregnant she was immediately told she was going to be made redundant, despite having substantially more experience than the other secretary who was retained. 

The employer justified the dismissal by arguing that he had to let her go as opposed to her colleague because he needed to keep a full time post and the colleague would not work part-time (which would have allowed them to job share).  No discussion had taken place with her as to whether she could work full-time or whether there were any alternatives to redundancy.  Further, it was clear that the other secretary had not been asked if she would consider working part-time. 

We issued proceedings for automatic unfair dismissal on the basis that our client had been selected for redundancy on grounds of her pregnancy, discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and indirect sex discrimination arising from selection for redundancy on grounds of part-time status.  Our client was happy that the case settled on the morning of the hearing.


Muckamore patients resettlement: update

Our work on the resettlement of patients in long stay hospitals continues.  Further to the June hearing of JR47 before the Court of Appeal, our test case has been remitted to the High Court for re-hearing, with a specific focus on DHSSPS and trusts’ duty to assess the needs of patients and individuals with potential community care needs.

This will allow the High Court to revisit the narrower issues of whether there is a proactive duty to assess patients’ needs in accordance with operational DHSSPS guidance on assessment and meeting need.

The substantive hearing will take place on 24 September 2012.