Law Centre NI

Law Centre (NI)

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

Welcome to our September 2011 enewsletter. 

You can still enrol in our September and October courses as well as in our seminar on the law of refugee status with Professor Hathaway. 

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

If the newsletter does not display properly, follow this link to the HTML version.



Alternatives to court

Casework bulletin

Autism Act briefing

The Law of Refugee Status and other training

Immigration detention



 Alternatives to court

Images fron cover of Alternatives to Court booklet

On 12 September, the Law Centre and the Northern Ireland Ombudsman are launching Alternatives to Court in Northern Ireland, a booklet explaining what people can do if they want to resolve disputes without going to court.

Published in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ombudsman and Queen’s University, the guide also lists the organisations that can help.

It will be disseminated via the Law Centre’s membership, Ombudsman’s contacts, government departments and local councils.

It will also be available to download from:

NI Direct:

Northern Ireland Ombudsman:

Law Centre NI:

A poster campaign through public venues such as libraries and GP surgeries will help raise awareness of this new publication.

Casework bulletin

Our second casework bulletin for 2011 is now out.

The impact of financial restrictions on accessing health and social care services is reflected in a number of our community care cases.

We are working closely with Tell it Like it is on a legal and policy strategy to enable resettlement of long stay patients from Muckamore Learning Disability Hospital.  Almost 200 patients remain in Muckamore and at June 2011, 91 had been in the hospital for more than 20 years.  The legal challenge is highlighted in the mental health section. 

The social security section discusses important Commissioner cases on ESA and tribunal powers to reduce DLA awards and an unusual case concerning internment in the late 1950s. 

The immigration section showcases the fast moving developments in European law and the impact of the McCarthy judgment in the ECJ. 

Finally, the employment section spotlights some particularly poor practice by employers that came back to haunt them.

Read the casework bulletin here.


Autism Act briefing

The Autism Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 came into operation on 9 August. 

The Act aims to ensure that people with autism have the same rights and opportunities as those with other disabilities.

It also requires the Northern Ireland government departments to work together towards a more streamlined approach to the provision of services for people with autism and their carers.

The Law Centre has written an information briefing on the Act, aimed at advisers, carers and health and social care staff.  Find it here:

Community Care Information Briefing No 27


Refresh your skills at the Law Centre

Celebration cake for Refugee Convention 60th anniversary

The Law of Refugee Status

A training course with Professor Jim Hathaway

Thurs 6 and Fri 7 Oct at QUB. Organised by Law Centre (NI) and School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

This course provides in depth understanding and analysis of the law of refugee status, from one of the world's leading authorities on refugee law.

Directed at immigration law practitioners, decision makers, NGO activists and policy makers, it carries 10 CPD points for solicitors and barristers.


£250 private/statutory; £180 non-Law Centre (NI) member voluntary organisations/academics; £150 Law Centre (NI) members; £80 students

It may be possible to offer a reduced fee to asylum/refugee-led organisations with limited means.  Please contact the Law Centre for more details.

To book a place, contact Gemma Graham, email:, phone 9024 4401


Other courses

6 September Completing Disability Forms: DLA and ESA - Derry

15 September  Completing Disability Forms: DLA & ESA Best Practice - Belfast

15 September  Representing at Mental Health Review Tribunal - Derry

20 September - 19 October  Tribunal Representation - 6 days - Belfast

22 September Representing at Mental Health Review Tribunals - Belfast

6 October - 17 November Welfare Rights Adviser programme (WRAP) - Derry

14 October Redundancy, Lay-off & Employer Insolvency - Belfast

19 October Employment & Support Allowance Changes & Migration - Derry

25 October Employment & Support Allowance: Changes and Migration - Belfast

For Belfast courses, contact, 9024 4401.

For Western Area training, contact, 7126 2433

or visit our website:

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


Immigration detention

The Law Centre is bringing civil proceedings against the UK Border Agency for its actions in detaining a pregnant mother and separating her from her young child last year. 

The proceedings are before the High Court and we assert that the immigration authority’s actions amounted to false imprisonment of the mother, that the UKBA failed to follow its own policy as contained in the Children and Family Cases Process Instruction and that it acted in breach of article 8 of the Human Rights Act

We currently await the UKBA response to our statement of claim.


Farewell Maura

Maura McCallion with Alex Atwood at launch of Redundancy Toolkit

Maura McCallion, Law Centre (NI) Assistant Director for Casework and Training, is joining the Office of the Attorney General in September. The Assistant Director post will be advertised this month.

Maura leaves with all the best wishes of her colleagues who are very sorry to lose her.