Strategic human rights and equality litigation

The Commission has a Legal Directorate of solicitors and caseworkers with wide experience of human rights and discrimination law that run test case on equality and human rights issues. This work covers the whole gamut of social welfare and related legal issues such as access to goods, facilities and services, housing, transport, education, immigration and so on, not solely employment law.

Judicial review: equality and human rights

The Commission has power to take judicial review proceedings on the basis of breaches of the Human Rights Act, or in relation to any matter in connection with which the Commission has a function - that is its equality, human rights and good relations mandates. The Commission does not need to fulfil the ‘victim’ requirement in order to do so. For further details see our human rights legal powers page.

Interventions: equality and human rights

The Commission also intervenes in human rights and equality cases taken by others, particularly at appellate level (including in the European Court of Human Rights). The Commission intervenes in public interest cases where it believes it can add value for the court and help achieve progress in the development or interpretation of human rights or equality law.

Further information

In relation to human rights issues in Scotland, the Commission shares its remit with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and must discuss issues raised with them before taking action.

Strategic casework: equality cases

Equality legal cases which are strategic in nature can be referred to the commission’s legal team for referral / funding either for the Commission to take them in house or for the solicitor to request external legal funding. The funding criteria can be seen in the draft casework and litigation strategy. The Commission is able to fund organisations as well as individual claimants.

Unfortunately due to statutory constraints we cannot currently fund human rights cases brought by others which do not also raise issues under the equality enactments.

Contact us about a case

The Commission is interested in hearing from solicitors, advisers, NGOs and others who are bringing cases that the Commission might intervene in and about cases or issues that we might take up. We look for policies or practices which lead to widespread or serious breaches of equality laws or the Human Rights Act.  Unlike solicitors in private practice and NGOs we do not need an individual claimant to come forward to bring a case; the Commission can bring the case in its own name. We will assess whether or not to get involved in a case in accordance with our overall strategic priorities and our casework and litigation strategy.

Even if we are not able to assist or intervene in your particular case we will use all the information sent to us to inform our future priorities for litigation and enforcement work. So, for instance, if we receive several requests from different sources on related matters that might lead us to carry out an inquiry into a particular problem in particular sector.

We are most likely to consider bringing proceedings in our name in certain situations, for instance:

  • Where a change in the law is proposed (or rather when it has just come into force) where an early challenge could prevent actual violations
  • Where the subject matter of the case is one where the Commission is best placed due to its history, statutory duties or particular expertise to bring the claim
  • Where there are a wide range of victims whose experience can be used to illustrate a problem but where a claim brought by any one of them would not tell the whole story
  • Where the actual or potential victims do not have access to lawyers, or cannot fund a claim themselves.

Requesting Commission assistance of intervention

If you wish to contact the Commission about a case or issue that you think we might be interested in, and you are a lawyer or have some other professional interest in the matter, please complete this Request for Commission Assistance or Intervention form and email it to one of the following addresses:

If you have any queries, or if you have difficulty filling in the form, please contact legalrequest@equalityhumanrights.com.

Lawyers referrals helpline

Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak with the Commission's legal teams about a case or issue that you think we might be interested in, and you are a lawyer or have some other professional interest in the matter, please call our Lawyers' Referrals Helpline. The contact details are:

  • Lawyers' Referrals in England and Wales: 0161 829 8407 (Tues to Thurs, 10am to 1pm)
  • Lawyers' Referrals in Scotland: 0141 228 5951 (Monday to Friday)

Our experienced legal staff will be able to discuss with you whether your case concerns an issue that might fall within the Commission's strategic priorities. They will also answer any questions you may have about how to request legal assistance or an intervention from the Commission if you do have a case that we might be interested in.

(Please note however that we will not be able to provide legal advice on this Referrals Helpline. In addition, we are unable to discuss potential referrals from anyone other than professional advisers or representatives such as solicitors or barristers).

Equality Advisory and Support Service

Note that claimants and other individuals who would like advice and information on discrimination and human rights issues should contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

The EASS receives calls from individuals and works collaboratively with advice agencies and other organisations who make referrals to it. It provides information, assistance and support (but not legal advice or representation) to individuals across Britain about discrimination and human rights issues and the applicable law.

The contact details for the EASS are:

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

Website: http://www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/

Post: FREEPOST Equality Advisory Support Service FPN4431

Opening hours:

09:00 to 20:00 Monday to Friday
10:00 to 14:00 Saturday
Closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Speakers

The Commission can also provide speakers for conferences or other events from our legal teams to explain the kinds of cases we are looking for and to explain our decision-making processes.

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