On Tuesday 16th October, a number of our specialist legal practitioners attended the Waging Peace legal clinic at Garden Court Chambers to provide advice for individuals who needed to know the best steps to take in their legal matter.
Waging Peace is a human rights organisation which campaigns against genocide and systematic human rights violations in Sudan. They hold key events, just like this clinic held at Garden Court, to increase awareness and provide support to those affected by these issues.
The clinic was a full day event, from 10am to 6pm, where service-users were allotted 15 minute advice sessions with the most suitable specialist for their case. Many practitioners from Duncan Lewis took part on the day, including: Toufique Hossain, Cyrielle Vallet Simond, Frankie Boon, Hannah Baynes, Jamie Bell, Kate Macpherson, Krisha Prathepan, Laura Smith, Maria Petrova, Monika Glowacka, Sangeetha Vairavamoorthy, Sheroy Zaq, and Tamara Smillie of the public law and immigration departments.
The clinic appears to have been a great success, with approximately 40 people coming to seek free assistance from experts providing advice on a pro bono basis. Though the day was not intended for the service-users to be taken on as new clients by the firm, it was a way for them to gain key information on the best next steps to take in their case, for instance, whether they need to prepare a fresh claim, or appeal a rejection etc.
Laura Smith, who took part in the clinic, is pleased that the clinic was able to help so many people, whilst also providing an insight into the wider problems affecting the communities we serve today.
“I was really glad to take part in the surgery this week and I hope that it is a format we can build on and repeat.
"What I saw was indicative of wider problems: people are disappointed in, and made depressed by, a system that is failing them. The reality is, without a lawyer who is willing to fight your case, even those with strong cases have little chance of getting the justice they deserve. To make matters worse, those with an asylum claim but without recognised refugee status are increasingly shut out of society.
"Despite the serious problems, there was lots of cause for hope, with the community of recognised and unrecognised refugees travelling from all over the UK to come together in support of each other.
"We were very grateful to Garden Court Chambers for hosting us. Perhaps we can also thank them in advance, as we hope that in the not too distant future they’ll be winning these cases in court!”
Duncan Lewis are pleased that we were able to provide advice to so many that would otherwise have been without access to legal support. We thank Garden Court for holding the clinic at their offices, opening the doors for conversations with the service-users who so desperately need legal reassurance from experienced professionals.
At Duncan Lewis, we have an established Pro Bono Committee, which is headed by Emine Mehmet, which enables us to extend our reach to various pro bono projects across England and Wales, and overseas. It is down to the hard work and commitment of those who continue to support these projects, alongside their own caseloads, which gives the most marginalised members of society access to quality legal advice. We are grateful to the team who attended the Waging Peace legal clinic for taking the time out to support this cause.