Tools to challenge injustice

It is easily said and harder to do. When a situation is overwhelming terms like “self help” and “empowerment” can be suffocating.
Expert legal advice must always be available.

This week (1st – 5th November) is pro bono week and South West London Law Centres have been associated with pro bono clinics for 44 years! The Pro Bono Week organisers describe pro bono as: “volunteer lawyers provide legal advice or representation free of charge to those unable to afford it.”

It is amazing that for the past 44 years lawyers have voluntarily provided legal advice to people across south west London. Expert legal advice is precious. You can read here what a difference our pro bono clinics make.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved for the past decades.

There are many legal bodies utilising the pro bono model of legal advice.
Advocate a charity that finds free legal assistance from volunteer barristers celebrated 25 years of their pro bono services this year. In an interview released by Advocate this week Mrs Justice Maura McGowan tell us “people need to be able to enforce their rights to protect their rights and to that end need the assistance of the legal profession”

Mrs Justice Maura McGowan DBE talks to barrister Sabina Khan about the many advantages (including biscuits) gained by doing pro bono work. Video courtsey of Advocate

Advocate hope is that in the future they will no longer be needed as everyone will have representation and not pro bono assistance.

We need people to access representation

Another strand of the South West London Law Centres is free advice and representation as part of the Duty Advice Scheme. The Duty Advice Scheme is separate to pro bono work and is delivered by our housing case workers in county courts across south west London. The Duty Advice Scheme was born out of Lord Web’s 1996 report entitled “Access to Justice”

We know that the number of housing cases being sent to court by a lender or landlord are increasing but the numbers of tenants or homeowners coming to court has decreased. This week I met with Katy Forkah (our Head of Legal Service and Housing Solicitor) to discuss why people at risk of loosing their homes are not attending court to access a hearing, free representation or advice from South West London Law Centres.

Over the Summer of 2021 the Bureau of Investigative Journalism investigated possession hearings and scrutinised 555 of these hearings. The bureau found in nearly 60% of hearings neither the tenant nor their lawyer was in attendance – so no one was there to argue against the eviction.

Without hearing from the tenants and homeowners why they have not attended court, all we are able to do is to try and reach those at risk of loosing their home. At the moment I am worried about attending public buildings and wouldn’t want to attend court without being reassured it is safe and that there is someone I can trust to help me.
Are you someone who didn’t want to attend court? Please let me know why so we can work together to encourage others to access the help that is available to them at the court.

Would you help us get the word out so we can reach those at risk of loosing their homes and encourage them to attend court on the day of their hearing and ask for the duty advisor. Help by sharing the below image.
You can read more about the Duty Advice Scheme sessions here.



Open Rights Group held a briefing meeting this week on data discrimination highlighting Government plans to scrap GDPR privacy laws will unleash data discrimination against workers, children, students and ore – and what you can do about it


FEATURING:

Carole Cadwalladr is a British author, features writer and investigative journalist responsible for exposing the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Ravi Naik was Law Society’s 2018 – 2019 Human Rights Lawyer of the Year. Naik is a multi-award winning solicitor, with a pioneering practice at the forefront of data rights and technology.

James Farrar is the Founder & Director of Worker Info Exchange. Together with Yaseen Aslam, he is the lead claimant in the landmark worker rights case against Uber recently decided in favour of workers by the UK Supreme Court.

Sahdya Darr leads on Open Rights Group’s work in relation to immigration policy. This involves looking at the use and impact of technology and data sharing in the development and implementation of immigration policy.

Mariano Delli Santi is Open Rights Group’s legal and policy officer. He works on promoting privacy in the online advertising sector, and supports ORG strategic litigation and political advocacy efforts.

The session was extremely eye opening as I:
a) Didn’t know about the consultation
b) Didn’t know the positives of GDPR
c) Didn’t know the abuses of digital surveillance
d) Didn’t know about the use of technology in making decisions

If you were not aware of the consultation I suggest you watch the above broadcast.
Open Democracy Group have produced the below guidance to help you in responding to the consultation:
https://www.openrightsgroup.org/data-a-new-direction-consultation-guidance/ and are offering assistance
in writing responses should you wish to discuss it with a member of the Open Rights Group team at:

Sahdya Darr – Immigration Policy Managersahdya@openrightsgroup.org
Mariano Delli Santi – Legal and Policy Officermariano@openrightsgroup.org