News

News2020-01-15T22:15:10+00:00
19Mar 2020

PILC during the pandemic

2020-03-19T11:48:38+00:0019th March 2020|

Due to the coronavirus pandemic PILC staff will be working remotely until further notice.

We are still answering our main phone line and EEA advice line. If you can’t get through, please leave a message with your contact details and someone will call you back within 24 hours.

If contacting us at office@pilc.org.uk or through our online form, please be clear about why you are contacting us so that your enquiry can be allocated to the relevant member of staff.

Staff have access to their e-mails. Clients can contact their solicitor or caseworker by phone or email.

If you are sending us something urgent by post, please email or call us so we can keep an eye out for it.

We will provide further updates soon on how we are working during the pandemic.

10Mar 2020

We’re hiring!

2020-03-10T15:29:00+00:0010th March 2020|

Dynamic paralegal required!

The Public Interest Law Centre specialises in public law, actions against public authorities and public inquiries. We act for individuals and campaign groups who have been treated unlawfully by public bodies. We also support communities, activists and social movements to use the law as a tool for social action. We are based in London, with clients citywide as well as in the South East and nationally.

Our solicitors, caseworkers & researchers meet with individuals and community groups to explore how legal action could help them challenge injustice and defend their social and human rights. We work with campaigners to develop strategic litigation for social change. Our current caseload reflects our interest in opposing austerity, the hostile environment, state surveillance & violence against women.

An exciting opportunity has arisen as we aim to expand. We are recruiting for the post of paralegal to assist our solicitors in their diverse strategic litigation.

We ask that prospective applicants review the job description and person specification below and provide us with the following as attachments:

1.       A covering letter of no more than three pages addressing all the points outlined in the job description; and
2.       An up-to-date CV.

We especially encourage applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates and/or those with lived experience of the social-justice issues we work on.

Applications should be sent to office@pilc.org.uk by 4pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

8Mar 2020

Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay – the battle against the poll tax

2020-03-10T14:58:17+00:008th March 2020|

Thirty years ago the struggle against the hated poll tax was reaching its peak. It was the biggest civil-disobedience campaign of the twentieth century. 

In a normal year in the 1980s the number of cases (summonses) brought before the magistrates’ courts of England and Wales was about two million. Between April 1990 and September 1993 the number of cases of unwillingness, or inability, to pay the poll tax totalled an additional (and staggering!) 25 million.

It is estimated that up to 14 million people were involved in resisting the poll tax, with many receiving multiple summonses. That’s just under one-third of the entire adult population. The sheer volume of cases overwhelmed the legal system and the enforcement of the poll tax was made impossible. What had once been described as Margaret Thatcher’s ‘flagship’ policy was sunk. 

A new book, Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay, edited by Eric Segal, secretary of the South East Kent Trade Union Council, outlines the struggle against the poll tax in Kent. Eric was an organiser of the anti-poll tax struggle in Kent and was sent to prison as a result of his refusal to pay.

Our Paul Heron contributed a chapter to this book. His chapter, entitled How Labour councillors fails us and why they shouldn’t, makes links between the poll tax struggle and the contemporary political situation. Heron highlights the need for Labour councils to set a no-cuts needs budget and stop passing on cuts to working-class communities.

Copies of Couldn’t Pay, Wouldn’t Pay, Didn’t Pay can be ordered by e-mailing office@pilc.org.uk

13Feb 2020

Stop press: important victory for migrant women!

2020-02-13T15:52:21+00:0013th February 2020|

High Court rules that student finance regulations discriminate against domestic violence survivors

The High Court has today ruled that a survivor of domestic violence was unlawfully refused a student loan and that the current student finance regulations discriminate against victims of domestic violence.

Our client’s ex-partner had withheld her immigration documents. This led to her spousal visa not being renewed in time. Our client ended up being unlawfully in the UK for nearly a year through no fault of her own.

She was later granted indefinite leave to remain as a victim of domestic violence. But the gap in ‘lawful residency’ caused by her ex-partner’s abuse led to her being precluded by the current education regulations from obtaining a student loan

Without student funding, she incurred significant debt with her university and was forced to withdraw from her studies.

As a result of the case, brought by Helen Mowatt of PILC with Dan Squires of Matrix Chambers acting as counsel, the student finance regulations have been amended. A student who has been granted indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a victim of domestic abuse is now eligible to receive a student loan straight away. The new rules are due to come into force on 13 February 2020.

This case is an important victory for migrant women who experience domestic violence. A thick web of unfair immigration and other regulations help keep survivors trapped in abusive relationships. Access to student finance will make it easier for women to leave and rebuild their lives independently.

The full judgment can be read here.

8Feb 2020

Undercover Policing Inquiry – update

2020-02-08T15:25:42+00:008th February 2020|

Prior to Christmas 2019 we were instructed by Richard Chessum to act for him in the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). He had already secured core participant status in December 2017. We have now been designated as his legal representative.

Richard was an activist in the Troops Out Movement (TOM) which was formed in 1973 following the attacks by the British soldiers on the minority Catholic/Nationalist population. TOM set out with its major aim to secure the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and self-determination for the Irish people as a whole.

Linked to that central demand were calls for the demilitarisation of the local police and paramilitary police support – the B specials – as well as opposition to UK Government policies that set effectively set in law discrimination against Catholic people in areas such as elections, housing, education, cultural pursuits, jobs and social welfare.

Richard was spied on by undercover police from the Special Demonstration Squad. He was targeted by an officer called ‘Rick Gibson’ who had targeted Richard, TOM and the socialist group ‘Big Flame.’

The UCPI is due to open on the 1st June 2020 where legal representatives from many of the 200 core participants are due to provide opening statements. This will then be followed by core participants providing witness evidence to the Inquiry.

4Nov 2019

Joint open letter about Rough Sleeping Support Service (RSSS)

2020-01-13T16:05:37+00:004th November 2019|

Public Interest Law Centre, Migrants’ Rights NetworkLiberty and twelve other organisations have today written a joint letter to London local authorities about the Home Office’s Rough Sleeping Support Service.

The letter, which can be read online here, calls on local councils not to participate in the Rough Sleeping Support Service until serious concerns about how the scheme operates have been addressed. The signatories are asking councils not to participate in any scheme that involves council employees or commissioned services (including charity workers) passing on personal information about rough sleepers to the Home Office without their fully informed consent at every stage.

The letter also calls on local authorities to cancel service-provision contracts with voluntary-sector organisations that have a track record of passing on personal information about rough sleepers to the Home Office without their fully informed consent. Finally, the signatories ask local councils to make a detailed commitment to funding independent, specialized accommodation, advice and support services for migrant and refugee rough sleepers in their area.

For reference, the letter from the GLA referred to in our open letter can be found here.