-2009 2009 009 Lambeth Law Centre
mbeth entre Legal Action in the community
-2009 R Report t 2008-2009
Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
vision, aims, objectives
contents 3 4 5 7 8 10 12 12 13 13 14 15 15
Chair’s Report Director’s Report Welfare Rights and Money Advice Report Housing Report Immigration Report Employment and London Discrimination Unit Administration Report Lambeth Evening Advice Service (LEAS) Summary Income and Expenditure Annual Statistics Using the Law Centre Board of Directors and Law Centre Staff Volunteers Lambeth Bridge Front cover photograph courtesy of The Merlin Entertainments London Eye Inside cover photograph of Lambeth Bridge courtesy of Creative Commons (under CC-BY-SA license) Back cover photograph of Tate Library, courtesy of Jane Airey http//janie.bn7.net/.ust Back cover photograph of The Bandstand at Clapham Common courtesy of The Clapham Society Back cover photograph of Holy Trinity Church at Clapham Common courtesy of The Clapham Society Page 8 photograph of Holy Trinity Church at Clapham Common courtesy of The Clapham Society
To provide free legal advice and representation at a specialist level to people living or working in Lambeth and the surrounding area with preference to those from Lambeth. The Law Centre raises awareness of key issues to the people of Lambeth concerning their legal rights.
People who come to law centres for help rarely have one single problem. Their problems are frequently multifaceted and have integrated legal and non legal elements. For example, the person who comes in with debt problems will often go on to mention other issues such as domestic violence, housing and schooling for their children. I am extremely impressed with the holistic approach Lambeth Law Centre has taken to address this reality by pulling together expertise from a range of organisations to provide an all round service. As lawyers, we must find increasingly holistic and innovative solutions to resolve people’s problems. I hope that the approach taken by Lambeth Law Centre is taken up by others as a model for success. — Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC, 2nd October 2007
Annual Report 2008–2009
ended my Chair’s Report last year by predicting that there would be challenging times in the year to come, just as there had been in the year that had passed. That prediction proved to be very true; it has indeed been a very challenging year and, as with most, if not all, law centres, a constant battle for survival. It has, however, once again been a successful year as we have continued to provide vital free legal services for the most vulnerable, socially-excluded and disadvantaged members of the community we serve and to achieve access to justice for those who can least afford it, and have little knowledge of how to obtain it. And that is the true measure of success. That we provide access to justice and make a difference to lives; and thus help the most marginalised to assert their rights. Over the past year, we have expanded our services and diversified our funding. However, the major changes in the way that Legal Aid is funded continues to present us with a difficult and unforeseeable future; particularly as demand for our services increases during a time of recession and economic uncertainty. This is a further dilemma to be
providing access to justice: making a difference
resolved in the year ahead, and one that I am sure we will embrace confidently and with optimism. There have been many positives to take from the past year; one of these has been the collaboration between directors and staff in setting up a dedicated website for the Lambeth Law Centre, led by Ramanam Selvaratnam, one of our directors. I was also extremely pleased that we were able to award a solicitor training contract to one of our housing caseworkers, Kevin Long, with the help of a grant from the Legal Services Commission. It is my hope that we will be able to expand on this, and to be in the position to offer more training contracts in times to come. The Law Centre also passed its Legal Services Commission audit with ‘flying colours’! This augurs well for the future, as the LSC is our major funder. We also had the pleasure of a visit by Lambeth Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Derrick Anderson, and were grateful that such an extraordinarily busy person could find the time to show an interest in the work of the Law Centre. And I would take this opportunity to thank Derrick for agreeing to be the guest speaker at
our Annual General Meeting. As Chair of the Law Centre I would like to formally record the Law Centre’s thanks to all its funders, without whose help and financial support our work would not be possible, and without which, so many lives would be lived in poorer and more desperate circumstances. It gives me much satisfaction to assure them that they may have continued confidence in us and the services we provide. These thanks I must also extend to the Law Centres Federation, our representative organisation, which constantly strives to sustain and ensure the existence of law centres, and to provide the crucial expertise, support and assistance that enables them to survive. On behalf of the Board of Directors I would also thank our staff and volunteers for their dedication and commitment – particularly our Director, Patrick Marples and Senior Solicitor, Vivien Gambling, who have worked tirelessly throughout the past year to keep the Law Centre in the right direction; as well as attending and advising all, the many, Board of Directors and sub-committee
John Howard, Chairman
meetings. Lastly, I reserve my personal and special thanks for my Board of Directors; each and every one of whom has brought their own individual skills to the Law Centre, and all of whom have contributed to its success in different ways over the past year. As a long-serving member of the Board I can say, without hesitation, that this has been the most accomplished, dedicated and multi-skilled Board that I have had the pleasure to work with and be a member of.
Visit by Derrick Anderson (1st on left), Chief Executive of Lambeth Council on 5th July 2009
— John Howard Chair 2008-2009
Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
ambeth Law Centre had another busy and successful year whilst facing times of great change in publicly funded legal advice and casework. The Law Centre is fortunate to have a talented and committed team working for the community in Lambeth. Last year we achieved financial gains or debt writeoffs amounting to £1,783,829. Possession proceedings and evictions for 88 clients were prevented and repairs carried out in 7 cases. 39 employment discrimination cases were settled or won obtaining £494,124 compensation. £669,220 in additional benefits, £602,072 in written-off debts and £18,410 in other compensation and other benefits were obtained. Details within each team report reflect the diversity of our work and highlight the major impact it has on individual clients. The demand for our services has never been higher, particularly since the recession started biting. The employment team for example has seen enquiries more than double. We were therefore delighted to receive new funding from City Parochial Foundation
for employment work. Apart from the Law Centre’s advice and representation in discrimination cases, previously there had been no employment advice available in Lambeth except on a nowin no-fee basis so this new funding will help the Law Centre bridge this gap. A new part-time employment solicitor Lorraine Turnell was welcomed to the team in August 2009. We have increased our partnership working with other law centres in South London and the advice sector in Lambeth. Through new funding from London Councils we now work in partnership with Southwark Law Centre and other south London law centres to deliver immigration and social welfare law services. The funding enabled us to recruit a new part-time immigration caseworker Hilton von Herbert. We also work with Streetwise Law Centre to provide youth homeless advice through Connexions. Funding continues for the Capitalise partnership following a successful re-bid, and we continue work with Lambeth Council on the Every Pound Counts benefits take-up campaign. The Law Centre now employs 14 case workers either full-time or part-time. Half of the posts
Patrick Marples, Director are funded through project funding. The biggest challenge the Law Centre now faces is bidding for new contracts with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) in 2010. The LSC will require agencies to provide social welfare law as a full service bundle, providing housing, debt and welfare rights. The Law Centre can meet this new requirement but we are also looking at entering consortia arrangements with other providers in the borough from the advice sector and private practice who are unable to provide the full service bundle. We do not want to see the supplier base in the borough diminish further. The Law Centre continues to work closely with the LSC. We passed our last full audit in October 2008. We were able to offer a training contract to the successful applicant, Kevin Long, one of our housing caseworkers, following the award of a training grant from the LSC. The Law Centre faces a difficult future operating as it does without cash reserves whilst trying to address increased demand for services within an uncertain funding environment. I wish to thank those staff who left this year for their huge contribution to
the Law Centre and wish them every future success as they take their careers forward. I also wish like to thank all our funders for their continued support and encouragement. The Law Centre would be unable to provide free legal advice and representation to our local communities, a service that is so vital to the people who rely on us, without the sheer dedication of all our staff and Board of Directors, and their commitment to keeping these services going.
Lambeth Law Centre Board of Directors
Annual Report 2008–2009
money advice team
his work is undertaken by two full-time caseworkers, Bruce Bebington (Capitalise) and Susan Ryan. Bruce runs weekly outreach sessions at Clapham Community Project on Wednesday afternoons. He is Secretary of Lambeth Credit Union. Bruce took part in Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in July 2009, talking about the problems clients face with debt collection agencies. The year was dominated by the Credit Crunch and subsequent recession. There was a large increase in the demand for money advice. We were given some additional funding in March 2009 from Capitalise which allowed us to take on a relief worker, Michael Clark, for that month. We easily met the additional casework target. During the year we started 247 new cases (161 - Capitalise). 213 cases were closed. We dealt with an additional 231 enquiries/ telephone advice. £602,075 of debt (£417,947 - Capitalise) was written-off by the team’s work. £4,080 in compensation was also achieved for clients. A new remedy called a Debt
Relief Order (DRO) for debtors owing less than £15,000 and having virtually no capital or surplus income was introduced on 6th April 2009. Through an intermediary a debtor can apply to the Insolvency Service who will write debts off subject to certain conditions. Bruce and Susan successfully applied to become intermediaries and have already assisted clients to obtain this remedy. The recession saw mortgage repossessions escalate and with that came a new type of client: middle class debtors no longer able to manage their debt by accessing either consolidation loans secured on their homes or switching credit card balances to zerointerest cards. The Law Centre intervenes on behalf of clients by finding ways to either prevent evictions or allow the client to sell their home and move to suitable alternative accommodation. We are now seeing the effects of the Council’s debt collection charter which the Law Centre helped develop with Lambeth Council. We had 7 cases before the Financial Ombudsman Service [FOS], all concerning poor service or bad treatment of customers. 2 cases are pending and 4 were successful including Ms E.
Bruce Bebington (Capitalise)
case studies The value of this charter can be shown in the case of Ms H. She owed £1,663 in council tax arrears but her current income was slightly less than if she received income support. [She opted for this low income to undertake part-time study to gain a care qualification.] We offered £20 per month towards the arrears. The council said they had no objection but the matter was in the hands of their bailiffs, Equita, who refused to accept the offer. Ms H complained that the refusal breached the promise in the charter to accept a reasonable offer of payment from a person in financial difficulties and the collection was rapidly withdrawn from Equita and the offer accepted. Ms E left her debit card and pin number in her bag at college one Friday and by Monday found the bag stolen. A crook used her account to deposit £20,000 and then withdrew the money. Later, this money was found to be laundered. Halifax bank held the client liable to reimburse the £20,000 on the grounds that the loss was due to her negligence in allowing her bank identity to be stolen. However, we submitted that the bank should have noticed that the £20,000 deposit was abnormal in the bank account of a young mother where no large transactions had previously been seen, and the bank shoul not have allowed the deposit to be withdrawn so unquestioningly. The FOS agreed and the client was released from the £20,000 liability.
My caseworker was very efficient, listened carefully and paid close attention to details. She was very thorough, open and very helpful. Thanks again. 4 /5
Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
he team now consist of four caseworkers, Susan Ryan full-time welfare rights & debt caseworker, and from September 2009 Andrea Muller, part-time. Carol Hughes (parttime) is funded as a benefits take-up worker for the Every Pound Counts campaign (EPC). Gwendoline Pullen joined in August 2009 as a full-time benefits take-up worker after the EPC campaign obtained extra funding. During the year 153 new cases were started (67 EPC). 171 cases were closed. There were 168 enquiries and telephone advice. £669,220 additional benefits were obtained, £474,468 from ongoing benefits and £194,752 from backdated awards. £334,298 of the overall total came from EPC take-up work. The team’s work also: Helped prevent evictions or notices seeking possession by recovering further housing benefit, thereby clearing rent arrears. Helped waive summonses for alleged council tax arrears and costs by recovering backdated Council Tax Benefit.
Provided help & support for people at times of crisis. Social security legislation has been changing continuously and further changes are inevitable, with new benefits being introduced. The team has a very strong commitment to carry out the work expected of it and navigate clients through the complex benefits system. Beyond financial benefits, the team promotes social inclusion by working closely with our partnership network to ensure effective delivery of our services to local communities. The team handled increased demand for advice, information and assistance. This takes in all aspects of welfare benefits and tax credits plus representation including tribunal hearings; and if necessary, judicial review and appealing to the Social Security Commissioners. We strive to be flexible and accommodate individual needs. Some queries are resolved by telephone advice. Other cases may require more intensive input, for example cases involving immigration and residence rules for benefits and tax credits.
case studies Ms X is a 38 year old woman from Morocco. She was found no longer incapable of work after failing a medical assessment that was improperly conducted. Her benefits were stopped including incapacity benefit (IB), housing and council tax benefit (HB/CTB). Bailiffs were pursuing her for council tax arrears and she borrowed money to pay off high bailiff charges. Ms X suffered mental health problems plus physical injuries to her back, head, neck and shoulder due to a previous abusive relationship. Ms X was tearful, severely lacked confidence, plus had language difficulties, all hindering her ability to deal with matters alone. She faced homelessness and was without income for more than a year, relying on hand-outs from friends. The Law Centre helped Ms X to make a fresh IB claim, while appealing the old IB decision at the tribunal. Her new claim was awarded and her appeal allowed. She received around £7,000 lump sum backdated IB. Her HB/CTB was restored and backdated. She was able to keep her home and get bailiffs off her back. The outcome achieved went beyond financial benefits. Ms X had her confidence back, and was motivated to enrol as a part-time student at college. Mrs S is a 70 yr old widow with arthritis and heart problems. She was claiming guaranteed pension credit and full HB/CTB Council. The EPC adviser helped her claim Attendance Allowance (AA). This was turned down initially due to a misleading GP report. The adviser helped Mrs S to appeal the decision and she was awarded higher rate AA of £67 pw, fully backdated. The adviser also helped her get Severe Disability Premium which increased her Guaranteed Credit by £50.35 pw, plus a Community Care Grant for new carpeting. Mrs S had money left over to get one room in her flat painted. The adviser referred her to the Occupational Therapist who put in lots of equipment for her to improve her quality of life. Her income had been maximised. Mrs S was very pleased and said the money and help cheered her up a lot.
Every Pound Counts (EPC) Campaign Every Pound Counts work is undertaken by Carol Hughes and, since September 2009, Gwendoline Pullen. This work involves maximising benefits uptake in Lambeth to ensure that service users receive full entitlement to benefits. Carol and Gwen are able to offer advice and help clients complete claim forms. EPC is accessed via a referral form or by calling 020 7926 5555. In the previous year 67 new EPC cases were taken on and £334,298 in additional benefits were raised.
I am extremely pleased by this service I couldn’t believe the help I got and it gave me confidence as well. Thank you I am much happier.
Annual Report 2008–2009
he team consists of 4 fulltime caseworkers, Vivien Gambling (Senior Solicitor), Anna Rosen (Solicitor), Bunmi Alemoru (Solicitor) and Kevin Long (housing caseworker and trainee solicitor). During the year the team opened 404 cases and closed a further 398 cases. 733 housing enquiries were also dealt with. The team provides an advice and casework service covering all aspects of housing law. The main areas of work are defending possession and eviction cases, assisting clients with homelessness reviews and appeals, allocation issues, and disrepair. We continue to represent a broad range of clients, including those homeless or at risk of homelessness, and tenants from across the public and private sectors. In the last year we have also taken on work involving rent and service charge challenges, the new deposit protection schemes, housing benefit appeals, and cases involving disputed security of tenure. Most of the work we undertake is casework funded under the legal aid scheme, but we also work under:
Duty Advice Scheme: This provides ‘at-the-door-of-the-court’ advice and representation for tenants subject to possession proceedings. We are part of Lambeth County Court’s Rota. We try to resist the making of a possession order, and where appropriate secure more time for defendants to get further advice. Streetwise Young People’s Project: Since January 2008 we have worked on a specialist service for young people in partnership with other south London Law centres. This provides an advice service devoted to the needs of younger people with housing problems. The threat of homelessness and the insecurity of transitory housing arrangements are the key issues affecting younger people helped by the project. The service focuses on addressing these issues, by providing legal advice and representation on adverse local authority decisions, but also by providing wider support on issues such as benefits and budgeting. We also provide weekly outreach advice at Connexions in Brixton. Advice Line: The team operates an advice line for all housing related calls
each Friday. Some callers are taken on as clients, but where we are not able to take on their case callers will be provided with detailed legal advice. ‘Pro Bono’ work: We retain some scope to undertake casework not funded under legal aid. Capacity to undertake such work is limited given other funding demands, but it remains important to our ethos to have some room to do pro bono work. There have been a number of significant developments in field of housing law in the past year. These include the ongoing progression of a Human Rights based defence to claims for possession; the decision that in the function of their housing duties Registered Social Landlords (including most housing associations) are ‘public’ bodies (and therefore their decisions can be challenged through Judicial Review); and the House of Lords’ decision on care for 16 and 17 year olds imposing a duty on social services to provide accommodation. In May 2009 the status of “tolerated trespasser” was effectively abolished, and council occupants subject to a possession
case studies Mr C, a council tenant with very severe health problems recently spent over two years in hospital. As a result he owed the landlord substantial rent arrears. We are now defending the claim against him for possession, and as part of this we have recovered a large amount of housing benefit owed to him for the period he was hospitalised. Mr G and his family had occupied their council home for over 25 years. His parents were the original tenants and as they both died he did not have the right to succeed to the tenancy. However, we have persuaded the authority to provide him with a secure tenancy and this will ensure ongoing settled accommodation for him and his family.
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Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
housing team case studies
order, who had previously lost their tenancy rights, had their secure tenancies restored. Many of these developments have been welcomed by the Law Centre, but access to housing remains a challenging and contentious area of social welfare law. Advice services such as ours are in greater demand than ever.
Holy Trinity Church Clapham
Ms J was pregnant, 23 years old and homeless. She suffered from depression and had previously self-harmed. She was sleeping on a sofa at her aunt’s. Her aunt had asked her to leave and Ms J was absenting herself during the day, returning late at night. She had asked Lambeth Council to house her. They phoned her aunt and told the aunt she should house Ms J for a few more weeks, but did nothing else. We wrote a letter before action threatening judicial review. Lambeth Council agreed to provide temporary accommodation, as they were legally obliged to do. This was an unsuitable B & B where Ms J could not have visitors. We asked them to provide suitable accommodation pointing out that Ms J needed support from friends both immediately and more so when the baby was born. Ms J had to return to this B & B after the birth, but found it very difficult. We made further representations to the Council, saying Ms J had started to self-harm and we prepared to issue court proceedings. Lambeth then agreed to provide a flat as temporary accommodation. They have now accepted a duty to provide “permanent” accommodation to Ms J and her baby. Ms L was a client we assisted under the Streetwise Project. She was living in Council accommodation which she had been given when she was forced to leave home due to family breakdown. An ex-partner broke into her home and destroyed both furniture and personal items making the property uninhabitable. It took the Council several months to re-house her, during which time she slept on a friend’s sofa. After we contacted the Council she was eventually given alternative accommodation and after she had moved in Ms L discovered she was pregnant. The property was an empty flat with bare floorboards, no curtains or furniture. Ms L applied for a Community Care Grant but was unsuccessful so came to the Law Centre for help with the appeal. After taking instructions we were able to set out her case and need for a grant in detail. We successfully obtained a grant of £800 for her to buy essential items for her home. Ms L is now settled with her new baby.
A professional service with clear and concise advice offered throughout. It was useful being able to communicate with my adviser via email as well as receiving information by letter. The response to my communications was always prompt. On visiting the Law Centre, I found staff friendly and approachable.
Found your organisation very approachable and easy to talk too, yes, I would use it again and I would like to thank you for your help.”
Annual Report 2008–2009
he immigration team now consists of two parttime caseworkers, Nike Maguire and Hilton von Herbert, each working 3 days a week. The appointment of a second caseworker on the immigration team has enabled the team to expand its services, including taking on more complex judicial review cases. Last year 30 new cases were started, adding to the existing caseload. Demand for advice and assistance with immigration, nationality and asylum problems remains intense throughout London. Immigration queries or needs, as opposed to asylum claims, continue to make up the majority of cases encountered at our telephone advice sessions. Immigration Rules have changed significantly with the introduction of the points-based system. These replace Immigration Rules that dealt with economic migration to the UK by those who are not British citizens, do not have the right of abode and are not exercising European free movement rights. Those coming to the UK under the new system require a sponsor. This
sponsor is normally the employer they intend to work for or institution they intend to study at. Sponsors must be licensed by the UK Border Agency. To obtain and retain a license the sponsor must comply with certain requirements. These include notifying the UK Border Agency of failures or suspected failures on the part of a sponsored migrant to comply with immigration. Further, the Immigration Rules were changed to introduce new mandatory grounds for refusal. There are now mandatory bans on people wishing to come to the UK if they previously breached immigration laws in certain defined ways. For example: overstaying; breaching conditions of leave to enter or remain; and making false representations. The ban could last up to 10 years. Certain changes to the Immigration Rules cause severe anxiety and difficulties for our clients. The removal of the seven-year child concession (DP5/96) is such an example. Before the withdrawal this concession allowed some families with dependent children to be
granted indefinite leave to remain where a child or children had been living in the UK for at least 7 years. Applicants now have to rely on the Human Rights Act to apply for discretionary leave. The processing of Asylum and Immigration Tribunal cases has also seen changes. Appeals are now listed and heard fairly quickly, including out of country (entry clearance) cases. The government is proposing changes to naturalisation. The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill contains provisions that will change how migrants can naturalise as a British citizen. The Bill will introduce ‘probationary citizenship’, ‘active citizenship’ and ‘permanent residence’. The team keeps abreast of developments, in order to provide the best available advice to clients in a public atmosphere of unprecedented hostility towards asylum seekers and other immigrants. The team does all it can to secure continued support from local councils for clients ‘unlawfully present’ but whose cases are in
Hilton von Herbert
case studies Mr B came from Angola. He applied for asylum in 1996 but his asylum application was refused. He lost his appeal and exhausted his appeal rights. Mr B was working illegally and being exploited. Mr B came to the Law Centre in July 2008. Mr B has a wife and children. We advised him he should have made an application under the Amnesty policy of December 2004. We made representations to the Home Office and in April 2009 they granted Mr B indefinite leave to remain. Mr B can now secure a decent job and is free to travel. Mr G first entered the UK in 1989 as a visitor. He overstayed and did not regularise his status. He was working. His employer requested proof of his status to work in the UK. If he was unable to produce it within 28 days his employer would dismiss him. We represented Mr G and made an urgent application to the Home Office before Mr G passed his Life in the UK test. We notified the employer of Mr G’s rights in the UK. We subsequently forwarded Mr G’s Life in the UK pass to the Home Office and he was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
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Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
immigration team every way strong and deserving. Our primary tool is the Human Rights Act. If we can establish that withholding support and accommodation will breach our clients’ human rights then the local authority has a duty to continue support. The team receives referrals from the Refugee Council most cases being for “failed” asylum seekers. Where possible we make fresh applications for failed asylum seekers and have been successful in ensuring the Home Office accepts our applications as fresh claims. We assist clients already in the UK requiring assistance with more complex applications for leave to remain. Some of these cases must be made outside immigration rules, perhaps because the client is an overstayer. Other clients wish to sponsor entry clearance applications for a spouse or other family members from abroad. In relation to either type of application, human rights considerations are cited wherever possible and can often be decisive. The case studies highlighted give some flavour of this.
case studies Mr H fled Afghanistan fearing for his life due to his connection with his father, a member of the Taliban. Mr H was just 17 when he arrived in the UK. His application for asylum was refused because his then solicitors did not produce evidence to support Mr H’s case. Mr H came to see us after he had exhausted his appeal rights. Subsequently, The Home Office detained him and he was scheduled to be removed to Afghanistan. We made fresh representations and the Home Office refused to accept Mr H as a fresh asylum claimant. We successfully obtained an injunction from the High Court to stop the removal to Afghanistan. Mr H is now released from detention. Mr A is from Eritrea. He applied for asylum in 1993 but his application was turned down. He had exhausted his appeal rights when he came to the Law Centre. We made a fresh application for Mr A but the Home Office did not accept it as a fresh claim. Mr A was detained. We secured Mr A’s release from detention. We made further representations and challenged the decision against Mr A’s fresh claim. The Home Office accepted Mr A’s fresh claim but Mr A was left in limbo. In July 2008, we applied for a work permit for Mr A. The Home Office granted Mr A the work permit. In January 2009 we made further representations and an application under the legacy programme. In July 2009, the Home Office reviewed our client’s case and granted Mr A indefinite leave to remain.
he Employment Team consists of three solicitors: Richard Leong, Beverley Reid and Lorraine Turnell. Richard and Beverley specialise in discrimination law funded by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and London Councils. Lorraine joined the team in August 2009 to focus on general employment cases funded by City Parochial Foundation. In May 2009, Kevin Long (housing caseworker and trainee solicitor) joined the team for an eight month period as part of his training contract. Delta Streete the Marketing Training Worker administers the training programme of the LDU. 73 new cases were opened and 91 cases closed in the last year. There were 668 enquiries/telephone advice. £494,124 compensation was obtained. 2008-2009 saw an interesting and challenging year for the Unit. The present economic climate saw employment enquiries increase, with unfair dismissal, redundancy and discrimination figuring highly. Many enquirers are workers worried about rumoured job losses. With unemployment levels high, the balance of power in the workplace shifts in favour of employers and against employees. This adversely impacts on
Annual Report 2008–2009
and london discrimination unit the willingness and confidence of workers to make complaints of unfair treatment at work or to seek advice and take action. Many workers just suffer in silence. This situation highlights the importance of an experienced and dedicated team of employment case workers providing advice and representation to the community. The Unit conducted a number of interesting and important cases, including one against a High Commissioner: In this sexual harassment case it is claimed that the alleged perpetrator drew a picture of the female victim as the target of a knife thrower. State immunity was waived to allow the tribunal claim to proceed and the case is likely to go to trial in 2010. There is also a race discrimination claim against a leading barristers’ Chambers. This is a case of ‘shadism’ where the black victim alleges racial harassment by someone of mixed race. Two of the Unit’s cases have proceeded to appeals to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. One involved an important legal point of whether an employee can be sacked for a ‘thought crime’.
A legal secretary was dismissed by a leading law firm, on the grounds of a medical report which concluded that she might make future complaints of sexual harassment. The victim was dismissed not for something she had done, but for something she might do. The importance of this case as a legal principle is that employers should not be allowed to victimize employees whom they label as potential troublemakers. Outcomes for discrimination cases conducted by the Unit have been encouraging. The Unit has settled £494,124 worth of claims. There have also been notable nonfinancial outcomes. In a case against Sainsbury, an employee with severe learning difficulties was dismissed for returning to work late from lunch. This employee’s disability included lack of concentration, short term memory, and losing track of time. The case was settled with reinstatement of her job and lost pay reimbursed in full. The Unit continues to enjoy the services of reliable and enthusiastic volunteers. We would like to thank the services of Nili, Fereshteh, Hilary, James, and Damien.
I was extremely happy with the services that were provided during my time of distress. The centre does a fantastic job.
I found Beverley very helpful and supportive. She always kept me in the loop and helped me understand every part of the process
Training The London Discrimination Unit (LDU) developed a strong training resource, carrying out a wide range of courses in employment law aimed at the not-for-profit sector and private practice. The LDU provides ongoing accredited training regulated by The Law Society. In the last year we delivered 10 new courses. In conjunction with Merton REP, we developed a series of regional based training courses. The courses follow our involvement with the SORBEE training project. This was an initiative organized by the Law Centres Federation involving religion and belief, sexual orientation and age discrimination workshops aimed at the voluntary advice sector. Many law centres were involved in this major project. We ran five training courses, based at Lambeth Law Centre, Enfield Law Centre and Cardiff Law Centre. Within the current training programme the LDU has built on its links with chambers and successfully hosted a practitioners’ seminar delivered by a barrister who is now with Cloisters Chambers, London. By adopting a training strategy offering courses pitched at various levels, we provide a programme that is topical and responds to current legislative changes.
Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
he Administration Team consists of Office Manager Tara Malcolm and Administrators Brenda Jobe and Donna Pommells. In the current economic climate the Administration Team faces very challenging times, largely due to the increased demand for advice in all areas of law. The team now deals with a higher volume of telephone calls daily, together with an increase in people coming to the Law Centre for advice without appointments. The Administration Team manages these extra demands in a professional manner whilst continuing their other daily tasks. The Law Centre has seen increased volunteer participation. Volunteers are a great asset in assisting the Administration Team with their tasks. Many volunteers are assigned to specific caseworkers. Their help is invaluable and the experience they gain enables them to secure paid employment in their chosen area of law. For example, one volunteer who assisted our immigration caseworker now works at the Home Office. Another
volunteer who worked with one of our employment solicitors now works in the employment department of a local authority. The Law Centre currently has 9 volunteers carrying out 15 days work each week between them. We plan to expand on this as we see keen interest for volunteering opportunities. Thought Iâ€™d just let you know that today I was offered a job as a Solicitor. During the interview I was asked a lot of question about volunteering with the London Discrimination Unit, and when I was offered the job they told me that my previous legal experience in London had made me a particularly strong candidate. So I just want to say thank you again for giving me the opportunity to work with you at the Law Centre. I can say now with authority that it has definitely contributed to my career progression â€” Hilary Sutton, volunteer.
enquiries and cases 4% 9% 39% 36%
enquiries > one off advice 745 Housing (39%) 68 Immigration & Asylum (4%) 168 Welfare Rights (9%) 231 Debt (12%) 668 Employment & Discrimination (36%)
cases opened 404 Housing (44%) 31 Immigration & Asylum (3%) 157 Welfare Rights (17%) 247 Debt (27%) 73 Employment & Discrimination (8%)
cases closed 398 Housing (44%) 38 Immigration & Asylum (4%) 172 Welfare Rights (19%) 213 Debt (23%) 91 Employment & Discrimination (10%)
client profile 25% 61%
5% 10% 18%
clients > by gender 523 Female (61%) 338 Male (39%)
30% 4% 4% 5%
clients > by ethnicity 214 Black or Black British African (25%) 258 Black or Black British Caribbean (30%) 33 Black or Black British Other (4%) 36 Mixed Background (4%) 49 Other (5%) 138 White British (18%) 93 White Other (10%) 40 Asian (5%)
29% 18% clients > by age 118 16-25 (14%) 154 26-35 (18%) 251 36-45 (29%) 210 46-55 (24%) 85 55-65 (10%) 43 65+ (5%)
17% 14% 10% 9%
7% 5% 4%
5% 14% clients > by postcode 148 SW9 (17%) 144 SW2 (17%) 125 Outside Lambeth (14%) 87 SW4 (10%) 84 SW8 (10%) 76 SW16 (9%) 61 SE11 (7%) 43 SE27 (5%) 38 SE5 (4%) 25 SE19 (3%) 15 SE1 (2%) 15 SW12 (2%)
Annual Report 2008–2009
Lambeth Evening Advice Session (LEAS) Lambeth Evening Advice Service (LEAS) is a weekly pro bono advice session offering a service in areas of law that the Law Centre is generally unable to provide. Pro Bono lawyers from leading city firms give one-off advice and assistance with consumer issues, small claims, employment matters (where the team in unable to take on the case); parking fines and return of housing deposits. During the year they had 181 appointments. The service works in conjunction with BPP Law School. Volunteers from BPP work on reception during the session and shadow advisers to gain experience of face-to-face advice as part of their professional studies. Mr X had been mistakenly charged over £1,000 in one month for electricity allegedly supplied by his supplier over the previous five years. British Gas, his current supplier, were chasing for payment and were on the point of threatening legal action. Mr X spoke little English and so found it hard to understand correspondence with the supplier or the action threatened against him for the alleged debt. LEAS stepped in to assist him and liaised with British Gas on his behalf and persuaded them to drop the claim.
summary outline income & expenditure to year to 31/3/09 income resources Grants from Lambeth Other Grants Legal aid/costs recovered Donations/other
137,774 302,651 260,082 17,407
resources expended Direct charitable expenditure Management & administration
total expenditure Net (expenditure)/income
Balance sheet at 31/03/09 Fixed assets Current assets Less creditors falling due in 1 year Net assets
6,096 157,131 (63,338) 99,889
Funds/Reserves Unrestricted funds Restricted funds
Above figures are a summary of the totals and include restricted and unrestricted income and expenditure. Copies of the full audited accounts are available from the Law Centre’s offices on request.
It was a surprise for me and I could not believe how quick and easy my problem was solved. This means that the service was perfect. So, I would like to thank you very much to Bruce and Lambeth Law Centre. 12 /13
Lambeth Law Centre
London Discrimination Unit
using the law centre
he Law Centre gives priority to people who live or work in the Borough of Lambeth. We are open Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm. When new clients call their details will be taken and they will be booked for a callback at one of the weekly telephone advice sessions. If the case is taken on, an appointment will be arranged. In emergencies the Law Centre will try to see a client immediately. We accept referrals direct from outside agencies. Home visits can be arranged where necessary. Interpreters can also be arranged to attend interviews and other matters where appropriate.
Lambeth Evening Advice Service LEAS runs on Monday evenings with appointments from 6.15pm to 7pm. The service offers one-off advice and assistance regarding consumer issues; small claims; employment matters; parking fines; and return of housing deposits. Call 020 7840 2000 to book an appointment.
board of directors
Advice line: 020 7840 2000 Fax line: 020 7820 8303 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org weekly telephone advice sessions Employment Housing Immigration Welfare Rights & Debt
Tuesdays Fridays Last Tuesday in month Monday
2pm – 4pm 2pm – 4pm 10.30am – 12.30pm 10.30am – 12.30pm
Clapham Community Project Connexions, Brixton
Wed, 2pm – 4pm Thu, 2pm – 4pm
outreach sessions Debt Young people
Unit 4 The Co-op Centre, 11 Mowll Street London SW9 6BG
John Howard - Chair Bryan Reed - Vice Chair Wamunyima Yeta - Secretary John Denny MBE - Treasurer Hugh Lansdowne Hannah MacKinnon Albert Ballardini appointed 25/11/08 John Finley appointed 25/11/08 resigned 29/05/09 Beverly O’Sullivan appointed 25/11/08 Ramanan Selvaratnam appointed 25/11/08 Victoria Pogge von Strandmann appointed 12/08/09
Annual Report 2008â€“2009
our staff & volunteers staff Beverley Reid Richard Leong Lorraine Turnell Delta Streete Bunmi Alemoru Vivien Gambling Kevin Long Anna Rosen Hilton von Herbert Nike Maguire Bruce Bebington Carol Hughes Trevor Mistlin Andrea Muller Gwendoline Pullen Susan Ryan Brenda Jobe Tara Malcolm Donna Pommells Patrick Marples
LEAS volunteers Employment Discrimination Solicitor Employment Discrimination Solicitor Employment Solicitor (joined 28/07/09) Marketing Training Worker (LDU) Housing Solicitor Senior Solicitor Housing Housing Caseworker/trainee solicitor Housing Solicitor Immigration caseworker (joined 06/02/09) Immigration Solicitor Money Advice Caseworker Benefit Take-Up Worker Welfare Rights Caseworker (joined 28/01/09, left 9/09/09) Welfare Rights Caseworker (joined 14/09/09) Benefit Take-Up Worker (joined 24/08/09) Welfare Rights and Debt caseworker Administrator Office Manager Administrator Director/Solicitor
Clyde & Co Dominic Pearson Susanne Botley Rachel Moss Tom Kelly Tom Roberts Tara Smith Maeve Sanderson Rebecca Hubert Scherler Alexandra Saj Bernard Lloyd Elizabeth Turnbull Legal & General John Murphy Susan Henderson
law centre volunteers Isna Aziz Temidayo Bankole Naomi Bent Faisel Devon Fereshteh Ehsan Richard Hampson Damian Kent Nili Kotecha Helga Lavin Roberta Mayasi Elaine Mitchell Collis Newton Lara Olubisi Rashmeet Panesar Bernadette Smith Catherine Smith Hilary Sutton Heather Thomas Zainab Zorokong
left 08/2009 joined 10/2009 left 08/2009 joined 09/2009 joined 04/2009 left 09/2009 left 10/2009 left 08/2009 left 04/2009 joined 08/2009 left 11/2009 joined 06/2009 left 06/2009 joined 09/2009 joined 06/2009 left 06/2009 joined 09/2009 joined 08/2009 left 08/2009
Lambeth Law Centre is a member of the Law Centres Federation Registered in England & Wales as a company limited by guarantee Registered Office â€“ Unit 4 The Co-op Centre,11 Mowll Street London SW9 6BG Registration No. 1581447 Registered Charity No. 1076204