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Strategic litigation

Strategic 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.

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.

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

For information on our current and concluded cases see our legal interventions page.

See also updates on some of our cases.

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.

Legal contacts

If you want to ask us for assistance with an issue, then how you do this depends on who you are.

Legal representatives should call the Legal Helpline (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

England: 0161 829 8190

Wales: 029 2044 7790 

The Legal Helpline can also be contacted at

Please bear in mind that securing assistance will normally take upwards of 4 weeks so we ask that you contact us as soon as you can.

It would help us if you could look through our Business Plan and litigation and enforcement policy before contacting us about a case.

Equality Advisory and Support Service

Individuals who wish to have their issue assessed for its strategic value, should call the Equality Advisory 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.

If the EASS view the facts as being of strategic interest to the Commission, they will refer the matter to us for further scoping. We will then decide whether to offer support. The EASS could, alternatively, refer you to another agency who might be better placed to help you.

It is important to contact the EASS as soon as you feel you might have an issue, as it will take time to decide if you have a legal issue of strategic interest. As courts and tribunals have strict time limits, then any delay could have serious consequences.

See contact details for the EASS.

Our legal review policy applies to decisions we make:

  • not to provide legal assistance
  • not to intervene in legal cases, and
  • not to follow up (or to stop following up) information about a third party’s alleged non-compliance with equality or human rights law.

You may request a review of a decision that falls into one of the categories above only if you are:

  • a legal representative or professional adviser who asked us to get involved, take action or provide assistance, or
  • a representative of the organisation that raised the issue with us or asked us to get involved or take action (‘the referrer’).

If you are an individual seeking advice about your own rights or assistance with your dispute, you need to contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Download the legal review policy (Word, 80KB)

Download the legal review policy in Welsh (Word, 299KB)

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).

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 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.

Last updated: 01 Oct 2021