LawWorks (the Solicitors Pro Bono Group) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Independent Review of the Human Rights Act (IRHRA).
In making this submission, we do not claim to have the same level of expertise or evidence that specific human rights organisations and others can offer as litigating human rights claims on a pro bono basis is relatively rare. Litigating claims under the Human Rights Act (HRA) with lawyers acting pro bono does sometimes happen, but as a form of judicial review with cost implications it requires very careful planning between claimants and their lawyers. However, as an access to justice charity we are also interested in human rights issues more broadly and support the Human Rights Act (HRA). Indeed a shared commitment to human rights principles, the rule of law and access to justice lies behind why so many lawyers choose to undertake pro bono work which is always an adjunct to, and not a substitute for, a proper system of publicly funded legal services.
Article 6 (Schedule 1 of the HRA) is especially important to LawWorks as it re-enforces the requirements of real and effective access to court and legal remedies, which may require access to legal assistance. The Act’s real impact though is felt beyond the courtroom, whether in the care system, immigration, education, social housing and welfare benefits, the HRA provides a powerful practical tool for advocacy, and for planning, delivering and securing rights-respecting services and outcomes. Our response considers this wider context of the HRA, as well as the specific issues raised by this review.