This conference is being organised by Oxfam together with the University of Oxford Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the Oxford Human Rights Hub and will bring together academics, legal practitioners, NGOs, community activists and funders to discuss some of the practical concerns, opportunities and challenges around using strategic litigation as a tool to achieve change.
One of the key aims of this conference is to work towards building an international community of practice of all those involved in strategic litigation. We look forward to learning from the experiences of the diverse group of participants and to some lively discussions about community building.
Day 1: Wednesday 14th February
09:30 – 10:00 Welcome and introduction
Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International (TBC)
10:00 – 11:15 Session 1:The ethic and politics of strategic litigation.
The first session will explore the nature strategic litigation as distinct from other forms of practice and litigation. It will focus on some of the special ethical issues that arise and on the political dimensions of this work.
Chair: Steven Vaughan
Panellists: Laura Gyte, Oxfam GB; Adila Hassim, Thulamela Chambers; Lisa Vanhala UCL.
11:45-1:00 Session 2: Strategic litigation as a route to remedies and community empowerment.
This session will cover public interest lawyers working in conjunction with social movements and communities. The session participants will be public interest lawyers and movement leaders from South Africa, who will draw lessons from their experience that will be relevant for those working in other jurisdictions.
Chair: Professor Kate O’Regan
Panellists: Nurina Ally, Equal Education Law Centre; Tsepo Motsepe, Equal Education Gauteng; Mandisa Shandu, Ndifuna Ukwazi.
2:00-3:15 Session 3: Different models of strategic litigation: test cases, group actions and the use of non-judicial remedies.
This session, which will span a range of jurisdictions that have seen significant strategic litigation, will explore some of the different models and approaches to public interest lawyering.
Panellists: Michael Bishop, Legal Resources Centre; Nuala Mole, Aire Centre; TBC
3:45-5:00 Session 4: Defensive uses of strategic litigation – defending the defenders, SLAPP suits and protecting civic space.
In this session, the speakers will explore developments that threaten to close the space available to civil society and to restrict public interest litigation, including the use of repressive legislation and litigation against civil society.
Panellists: Jasper Teulings, Greenpeace; Jo Rowlands, Oxfam GB; Fran Lambrick, Not1More
Day 2: Thursday 15th February 2018
9:30 – 11:00 Session 5: The geography of strategic litigation: north-north; south-north and south-south litigation.
Strategic litigation has developed and been used differently across the world. This session explores some of the commonalities and differences, placing them in the context of anti-colonial struggles and contemporary geo-politics.
Panellists: Gaye Sowe, Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa; Dr Chris Mbazira, Makerere University; TBC.
11:30-1:00 Session 6: Opportunities and challenges in financing strategic litigation: measuring success, value and impact
Strategic litigation is highly resource-intensive. This session explores how strategic litigation across the world is supported, as well as how its impact and value are subsequently assessed.
Chair: Peter Noorlander, Bertha Foundation (TBC)
Panellists: Tom Lorber, CIFF (TBC); Rupert Skillbeck, Sharon Turner, ECF (TBC).
2:00 – 3:15 Session 7: Litigating against parties outside your countries and the use of regional and international fora.
Some types of strategic litigation cross borders, employing extra-territorial, universal or other forms of jurisdiction to litigate in relation to events that happened elsewhere.
Chair: Helen Mountfield QC
Panellists: Richard Fentiman, Cambridge University TBC; Shubhaa Srinivasan, Leigh Day & Co; Andreas Hofmann, FU Berlin.
3:45 – 5:00 Session 8: Building the international community of practice.
This will be an interactive session; attendees will be given papers ahead of this session and expected to actively contribute to a discussion about experiences of and suggestions for building and uniting the UK and international communities of practice.
Chair: Joss Saunders, Oxfam GB
Panellists: Richard Lord QC , Action4Justice; Gaye Sowe, Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa; Professor Sandy Fredman, Oxford Human Rights Hub.