Scottish Just Law Centre

The Scottish Just Law Centre aims to reduce discrimination and disadvantage in Scotland by helping people use equalities and human rights law as an effective tool for social change.

The Equality Act recognises that people are likely to experience discrimination and disadvantage if they are, for example:

  • disabled;
  • transgender;
  • pregnant, or have recently given birth;
  • a refugee or migrant;
  • of traveller heritage;
  • a woman; or
  • lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Discrimination

If a public body, public service provider or employer treats somebody less favourably because they have one of these protected characteristics, our Scottish Just Law Centre may be able to help them take legal action, by way of judicial review, or Sheriff Court proceedings. (They need to have low enough income to be eligible for Legal Aid, because of the costs risk involved in litigation).

Examples of unlawful discriminatory treatment include:

  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) making it very difficult for someone with learning disabilities to claim Universal Credit, because the process is all online or by telephone, when paper claims (and other correspondence) would be easier for them to manage;
  • a local authority making it impossible for a disabled person with traveller heritage to take respite breaks in a campervan, because it has a policy that social care payments can never be used for vehicles;
  • the Home Office making transgender people out themselves each time they need to verify their immigration status, by basing their EU Settlement Scheme digital status upon their passport from their country of origin, which cannot be changed to reflect their lived identity because there is no legal gender recognition process there;
  • a further education college classifying an ESOL course as non-fundable by way of a bursary, when students on other comparable courses can be paid a bursary; and
  • a university failing to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled student, such as extra exam time, meaning they don’t qualify, and their career prospects are limited.

Strategic cases

Often, discriminatory treatment doesn’t just affect one person – it stems from a policy or practice that affects numerous people. Taking legal action can therefore benefit other people, by getting a policy changed or a practice improved or stopped.

Our Scottish Just Law Centre therefore undertakes discrimination case work with the aim of bringing about wide-scale positive social change.

Our policy partners, Inclusion Scotland and Scottish Trans, have helped us set strategic priorities regarding discriminatory policies and practices we are particularly interested in challenging by way of litigation:

https://www.justrightscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SJLC-StrategicPriorities.pdf

Disadvantage

Certain protected characteristics make it more likely someone will have low income, or be unable to work, and therefore need to claim welfare benefits. They might also need social care.

Problems with benefits and social care can have a huge impact on health and wellbeing, because they cause stress and worry about food, heating, housing, dignity and safety.

Our Scottish Just Law Centre aims to reduce this disadvantage by helping people with protected characteristics resolve problems with welfare benefits and community care.

Welfare benefits

We may be able to provide specialist help with a benefit appeal, for example:

  • if a disabled person has lost a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeal, or one in relation to a “limited capability for work” decision, and it seems the First-tier Tribunal made an error of law, we can provide advice and assistance in relation to an Upper Tribunal appeal; or
  • if an EU national with pre-settled status has been refused Universal Credit, we can explore whether they have an arguable “right to reside”, and help them challenge the refusal if they do.

Social care

If a disabled person is unhappy with the outcome of a social services needs assessment, we may be able to help them with a review.

 

Get in Touch

If you are a frontline adviser or support worker, you can make a referral to us on behalf of a client or service user.

If you are an individual member of the public with a protected characteristic who has experienced discrimination, or who needs help with a benefit appeal or a social services needs assessment review, you can also complete one of our online forms:

https://www.justrightscotland.org.uk/need-help/make-a-referral/

 

Second Tier Discrimination Advice Line

  • Are you an adviser or other frontline worker working directly with members of the public who have one or more Equality Act “protected characteristic”, such as disability, gender reassignment, race or sex?
  • Do you believe a public body or public service provider has treated one of your clients or service users less favourably than comparable people because of their protected characteristic?
  • Would you like to discuss the case with one of our solicitors, free of charge, so they can advise you how to help your client, e.g. to submit an internal complaint, or complain to an ombudsman, including regarding which parts of the Equality Act are relevant?

If so, you can call our free, confidential second-tier advice line on Thursdays between 2pm and 4pm on 0141 406 5353.

Read more: Second Tier Discrimination Advice Line (PDF)

We are funded by:

The Baring Foundation logoLogo of Equality and Human Rights


Resources

Challenging Discrimination: Launch of Free, Confidential, Second-Tier Advice Line

  The Scottish legal system is complex and constantly changing. Advisers and frontline workers who are supporting vulnerable people every day may need help too. For them, the Scottish Just Law...

EU Citizens and Access to Benefits: Time is Running Out for EU Citizens to Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme

  Gwyn King, our specialist welfare expert and Senior Associate Solicitor in our Scottish Just Law Centre (SJLC) warns that time is running out for EU citizens and their family members to apply to...

Human Rights Act reform: we reject the UK Government proposals

  JustRight Scotland has rejected the UK Government plans to replace the Human Rights Act (HRA) as announced last December.  We have been working – together with other Scottish civil society and ...

Introducing our new social enterprise: JRS Knowhow 

We are proud to announce the launch of our brand new social enterprise JRS Knowhow. The start-up social enterprise was created in April 2021, marking almost exactly four years since JustRight Scotland was set...

New Plan for Immigration Consultation: A Briefing for Scottish Civil Society Organisations

On 24 March 2021, the UK Government published its New Plan for Immigration, which sets out various proposals for changes to nationality, immigration and asylum law.  The consultation invites members of...

New Plan for Immigration Consultation: Our Response

On 24 March 2021, the UK Government published its New Plan for Immigration, which sets out various proposals for changes to nationality, immigration and asylum law. JustRight Scotland and our JustCitizens...

Protecting gender equality on public boards in Scotland

By Gwyn King The Scottish Government acknowledged some time ago that public decision makers in Scotland are often not representative enough of the diverse society in which they operate, or inclusive...

Response to Independent Review on the Human Rights Act

We have submitted a response to the Independent Review of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), in response to its call for evidence which closed on 3 March 2021. Our submission makes it clear that we see ...

Scottish human rights organisations unite to reject “unnecessary, regressive and divisive” plans to replace Human Rights Act

Responding to the UK Government’s announcement today that it plans to replace the Human Rights Act, five leading Scottish human rights organisations have released a joint statement calling the proposals...

Scottish Trans joins legal challenge to protect trans people’s equal participation in the next Scottish Census

PRESS RELEASE Equality charity says that attempt to overturn well established guidance for trans men and trans women answering the Census is ‘misguided’ and will send a message that ‘they aren’t counted...

The Scottish Census 2022 and the “Sex” Question

  Gwyn King, Scottish Just Law Centre If you live in Scotland and haven’t already done so, you have until this Sunday (20 March 2022) to complete Scotland’s latest census. One of the questions is:...

Trans equality charity welcome Court of Session decision on transgender rights

  PRESS RELEASE Court upholds Census guidance allowing trans men and women to self-identify their lived sex. Lord Sandison held in the Outer House of the Court of Session today that Scottish Ministers...

Using the Law to Challenge Discrimination: Migrant Access to Further Education & Unlawful Disclosure of Gender History by NHS

  Gwyn King, Senior Solicitor in our Scottish Just Law Centre, highlights two recent cases where we helped clients to use the law to successfully challenge discrimination:   Barriers to Migrant...