To get more NGOs in this country to consider litigation as a tool for change, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Paul Hamlyn Foundation commissioned separate reports evaluating two instances where litigation was used successfully by NGOs which brought about significant change.
The first report prepared by IVAR focuses on strategic litigation by Detention Action, a small, non-legal NGO. Detention Action took legal action over the Detained Fast Track (DFT), a process where asylum seekers were routinely detained in high security centres while waiting for their claims to be decided.
The second report prepared by Dr Vanhala of UCL looked at Just for Kids Law’s intervention in R v Tigere in the Supreme Court. The case was about the denial of student loans to lawfully resident young people who were not British citizens. The findings were similar to the IVAR report, concluding that:
- Being involved in a strategic litigation requires leadership on the part of senior management and trustees, on both the legal and communications side over the course of the campaign
- Proximity to those with lived experience of the issues is important;
- Getting lawyers with different expertise if the issue spans two areas of law;
- Awareness of the potential costs involved and risk assessment of the implication of those costs;
- Recognition that a communications strategy requires investment at a senior level and can take up significant time and resources to be able to shape the media narrative in a constructive way. The value of training key spokespeople cannot be underestimated.
- The importance of what the report describes as ‘legacy activities’, to ensure that whatever the outcome of litigation, work continues to be done to ‘achieve an effective remedy’.
Notes: This news item has been adapted from a blog by Shauneen Lambe (Just for Kids Law) available here. To read the full report on using strategic litigation in the R v Tigere case, please click here.