These are difficult times for bringing public interest legal cases. The withdrawal of legal aid from many areas has meant that it has become a lot more difficult to fund cases. And the lawyers who are the experts in this kind of litigation are finding it harder and harder to keep practising in the area.
So bravo to a new initiative, CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation. For those who don’t know about crowdfunding, it has been a huge success for other kinds of projects through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. CrowdJustice is already fundraising for its first case, Torres v BP and Others, and there is a nice video on the site which has been cross posted by The Guardian.
Crowdfunding isn’t going to replace Legal Aid, nor is it going to become the main or perhaps even a major source of public interest litigation funding. But in cases that interest the public (is that the same as public interest?), it could become a really important resource. In the age of social media, a cleverly pitched campaign can raise a decent amount of money quickly. And wouldn’t it be interesting if someone could figure out a way of building a kind of crowd funded conditional fee agreement, whereby people get back their money or even a share of the damages if the case is successful?
Good for CrowdJustice – go to the site, share, and if you want to, contribute!
I’m delighted to say that I will be giving the keynote address at the UK Constitutional Law Association‘s one-day conference at the University of Manchester on the subject of “Debating the Constitution after the Election”. Topical, eh?
The conference is on Wednesday 24 June. My keynote is entitled: The slow death of the UK Human rights system: Is it just a matter of time or can the UK learn to love human rights? I wrote that before the Election, so perhaps remove “slow”.
Full details and line up here and below. There are two ways to attend the conference:
(1) Be a member of the UKCLA (here’s how) and attend for free by simply e-mailing UKCLACON15@manchester.ac.uk ; OR
(2) Pay the £10 registration fee and register via this EventBrite link.
As I am sure will not have escaped you, these are interesting times for human rights. We still await the detailed Conservative proposals for replacing the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights, so it is difficult with any certainty what will happen.
I wanted to gather together a few pieces of commentary and media appearances I have done in the past week, so here they are. We will, of course, be following closely what comes next.
There has been a huge amount more already. Some illuminating pieces (certainly not comprehensive):
“Our aim is a straightforward one”, New Labour Party told us in October 1997 “[it is] to bring those rights home”. In 2000, the Human Rights Act came into force. For the first time, people in the UK had human rights which could be enforced in UK courts. The right to life, the right not to be tortured, to free speech. What was not to love?
If only it was that simple. 1997 seems a very long time ago. Now, in the final few hours before the 2015 Election, we see the major parties fundamentally divided on human rights.I haven’t written about the Election and human rights yet, mainly because I have been setting up a wonderful new human rights website, rightsinfo.org (more on that later).
I am delighted to announce the launch of my new human rights initiative, RightsInfo. The site has just gone live at www.rightsinfo.org. Visit, share, subscribe by email and enjoy!
RightsInfo will use social media to improve public understanding of human rights. Our brilliant new website provides clear, reliable and beautiful human rights information to share.
I have been working closely with a large team of volunteers and the amazing Information is Beautiful Studios to build a space which looks and feels like nothing that has come before it. Here are some of RightsInfo’s great features:
I really hope you enjoy the site, which will tie in closely with the work we will continue to do at the UK Human Rights Blog.
Just a quick update on RightsInfo, my new human rights information project. As you can see, we now have a logo. The design is a clue to the look and feel of the site – all will be revealed when we launch on Tuesday 21 April.
RightsInfo will provide clear, reliable and beautiful human rights information to share. I am particularly excited that we have been working closely with the amazing Information is Beautiful Studios to build some fantastic infographics and other fantastic resources… I will say no more, just wait until a week on Tuesday!
If you would like to come to the launch party, there are around 20 spaces left and a final invitation will be going out via the RightsInfo mailing list shortly. If you want to receive it, and get general updates, sign up to the mailing list at rightsinfo.org.
You can also follow RightsInfo on Twitter and Facebook.