Law centres have been
among the most prolific in developing new remedies for those in
disadvantage. For example, law centres originally developed the
reasonableness defence and the use of minutes for recall
of decree (protecting tenants from losing their homes). Remedies for
tenants and children living in damp housing conditions were promoted
and developed by Glasgow law centres (in particular enforcing repairs
and child asthma remedies).
Centres undertake a very large proportion of the representation
undertaken in Scotland - including judicial review in homelessness
cases, defending evictions, representation in mental health hearings,
representation at employment and benefit tribunals, criminal injuries
compensation appeal panels and immigration adjudicator hearings.
centres do not keep what they learn to themselves - they provide
free or low cost educational training on a large scale, as well as
writing an extensive number of leaflets, and several legal textbooks.
LAW CENTRE - EXAMPLES OF WORK
26 February 2001)
any one time, Govan Law Centre has between 700 and 1,000
files open on behalf of clients. These are substantial
on-going legal matters requiring representation at court or legal
assistance, which cannot be dealt with quickly or by simple advice.
The bulk of cases are within Greater Govan, but a proportion is
Citywide, with a number being Scotland-wide (typically where a client
has a legal need which no one else is able, or prepared to meet). We
also provide a high volume of telephone and 'one-off bits' of advice,
as well as a free legal educational programme.
representing 70 workers before employment tribunals in Glasgow for
unpaid holiday pay, unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and
pursuing a large volume of housing law litigation before the Sheriff
and the Court
disrepair cases, compensation and reparation for ill-health,
environmental health litigation, home loss aid disturbance payments,
allocation and homelessness cases; defending a significant volume of
This month successful in a
test case before the Inner
House of the Court of Session
with respect to the rights of homeless hostel residents. The law
centre has two further test cases coming before the Supreme Court
this year - one concerning the use of the Environmental Protection
Act 1990 by tenants living in damp housing and the second case on a
security of tenure issue concerning housing association tenants who
had previously been local authority secure tenants.
Rights Govan Law Centre is presently in the process of
challenging the Housing
Benefit Review Board
system (which determines housing benefit claims and awards) in terms
of non-compliance with Article 6, Schedule 1 of the Human Rights Act
1998 (subject to civil legal aid being awarded). We are also in the
process of challenging the use of the mandatory
eviction 'Ground 8' (three
months arrears and you are evicted) by housing associations (in the
course of an eviction case in Clydebank); upon the basis the practice
between housing association secure and assured tenants.
Childrens Rights Project currently provides on-going free
legal representation at Childrens
and was recently successful in a number of school exclusion sheriff
court cases, resulting in a City-wide rethink in appeals policy.
large volume of free community organization work is currently
undertaken for example, setting-up legal structures for
community organizations supported by the local Social Inclusion
Partnership; as well as incorporation/charitable status work for
community groups (requiring to incorporate to protect management
volunteers or obtain charitable status) to access varied sources of
funding. At any time we support a wide range of community groups, who
work to tackle local unemployment or develop access to lifelong
learning, address a variety of poverty and health issues and so forth.