Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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


Welcome to our May 2013 e-newsletter.  We hope that you find it useful. Please feel free to circulate to interested colleagues.

If it does not display properly, you can read it in your internet browser.  Just click on: May 2013 e-newsletter.

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Training opportunities

Information session on Croatia's EU accession

JR47 explained

Law Centre development plan

Child Benefit and right to reside

Refugees and benefits

Spring training at Law Centre (NI)

Welfare Rights Adviser Programme trainees February 2013


Welfare Rights Adviser Programme, 8 day course, starting 8 May

Introduction to Mental Health Law, 21 May

Western Area

Introduction to Mental Health Law, 29 May

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

Law Centre session on rights of Croatian migrants

Belfast Integration and Participation Project

Croatia is due to join the European Union this summer.  The rights of Croatian migrants, restrictions placed on them and implications for advisers will be the subject of an information session on 25 June at the Law Centre.

This will be the last of a series of practitioner focus groups run by the Law Centre on behalf of Belfast Integration and Participation Project.

As part of the BIPP programme, the Law Centre will publish an online guide to migrant workers and social security.

When: Tuesday 25 June, 11am to 1pm

Where: Law Centre (NI) Belfast office, 124 Donegall Street, Belfast BT1 2GY.

For more details, contact Patricia Carty on 9024 4401.

Note: Our free training sessions on Migrant Workers and Universal Credit, also run for Belfast Integration and Participation Project, are now fully booked.


Law Centre resettlement case explained

This Law Centre (NI) briefing outlines the key points of a high court judgement on the resettlement of long term patients of Muckamore hospital and its broader implications in the field of health and social care law.


Read it here: Implications of JR47

Law Centre plans for 2013-2016

Law Centre (NI) Development Plan 2013 front cover

The Law Centre's Development Plan over the next three years is now available on our website.

Read it here: Law Centre (NI) Development Plan 2013-16


Breakthrough decision on right to reside

In a case taken by the Law Centre on behalf of an Latvian national, Commissioner Mullan found that our client should be entitled to Child Benefit and that applying the right to reside rule in her case was unlawful direct discrimination under Article 3 of EC Regulation 1408/71.

A first in the UK, this is a very significant decision on right to reside requirements for benefit entitlement.

Our client had worked and paid tax and national insurance in the UK for over twelve months.  Although she had not registered this employment under the Worker Registration Scheme, it brought her within Regulation 1408/71, which prohibits direct discrimination on grounds of nationality.

Child Benefit entitlement is based on an ordinary residence and right to reside test.  Commissioner Mullan held that, unlike the habitual residence test which UK nationals can also fail, the ordinary residence provision is rarely failed by UK nationals, so that, in effect, the only residence test for entitlement to Child Benefit is the right to reside test.  As all UK nationals satisfy the right to reside test, in the context of Child Benefit it is directly discriminatory to non UK nationals.

This decision has wider implications and the arguments could be used by nationals of other Accession countries and by EU nationals who are economically inactive due to caring responsibilities. It could also be relevant to disputes relating to other benefits such as Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and ESA in youth.

HMRC has until 21 May to appeal.

Advisers who are uncertain whether these arguments would apply to their case can read a fuller report on our website and contact our advice line for further information.

Advice line: 9024 4401 or 7126 2433, Monday to Friday 9.30 to 1pm.

Benefits delay resolved for refugee family

The Law Centre recently represented a client who had difficulties accessing benefits after she and her four children were accepted as refugees.

The UKBA had sent a letter confirming refugee status but failed to issue their residence cards. Her NASS payments were due to stop and she made a claim for Income Support. She was told that her claim could not be processed until she provided a passport and a residence card.

We contacted the social security office on her behalf and argued that the letter was sufficient proof and that it was unreasonable to request her to produce the documents when the failure was the UKBA’s.

The social security office accepted our argument. Interim payments were put in place pending the allocation of her National Insurance number.

The social security office confirmed that the guidance on how to deal with this type of claim would be reissued to staff.