Kent Law Clinic: weekly news and updates

Kent Law Clinic’s first weekly Tuesday meeting of the term was led by the Student Committee Chair Emily Ham.

Student Committee updates:

  • Pub Quiz: Kent Law Clinic will be hosting a Pub Quiz at 7pm on Tuesday 12 February in Mungo’s Bar and Diner (in Eliot College) – all welcome!
  • Case Discussion Session: The first new Kent Law Clinic Case Discussion Session will be held from 3pm – 4pm next Wednesday (23 January) in the Moot Court (Wigoder Law Building). It will feature a family law case and a housing law case. This is an excellent opportunity to delve deeper into the law behind current cases being undertaken by staff and students at the Clinic. All law students are welcome to attend! 

Law Clinic case updates:

  • 41 new enquiries have come into the Law Clinic this week
  • Bankruptcy order case: Clinic Solicitor Vivien Gambling successfully secured the annulment of a bankruptcy order against a Clinic client (called Mrs T) at a court hearing on Wednesday 2 January. Mr & Mrs T had first come to the Clinic in August 2017 when they were facing the risk of losing the family home due a possession order which had been obtained by the Trustee in Bankruptcy. A stay of execution on the possession order was obtained by the Clinic and a challenge was mounted through the court process for the legal costs (totalling more than £77k). Vivien, assisted by a  Clinic option student, negotiated a huge reduction of the costs claimed against Mrs T and made an application to the court to annul the bankruptcy order. Having never tackled a case such as this before, Vivien said it was “very satisfying” to secure the annulment of the possession order and thus preserve the family’s home.
  • Disability case: Vivien represented a client whose son was awarded nil points in his first assessment for PIP (Personal Independence Payment) despite not being able to travel to school alone or being unable to cook a meal unaided. On seeking a review (‘mandatory reconsideration’) of the decision, benefit was awarded but not the full entitlement. After the Clinic advised and encouraged the client to appeal and submitted grounds for the appeal, the Department for Work and Pensions decided to revise their earlier decision (without putting the Clinic’s client through the lengthy appeals process).
  • DLA case: A client who is eligible for the highest amount of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) received £55k at the end of last year after the Clinic successfully challenged a decision to suspend her DLA payments. Her payments had been suspended during a stay in a nursing home that was funded by the NHS (at a cost of £8k per week). The client was represented by Clinic Director Graham Tegg, working with a team of five Clinic students. Graham said there are nine other people in the same nursing home in similar circumstances, whose cases will now be taken on by the Clinic. It is likely there are many more people across the UK in similar circumstances. The Clinic aims to prepare a template to help other solicitors take up these cases.
  • Permanent residence case: Clinic Solicitor Sheona York has helped a Polish couple secure British passports for their children. The Home Office, relying on the unlawful extensions of the Accession States Workers Registration Scheme to May 2011, granted permanent residence to the mother as at a date five days after their first baby was born, thus depriving the baby of British citizenship. Sheona was able to make a successful application for permanent residence for her husband based on the Court of Appeal case which found that the Workers Registration Scheme terminated in 2009. This then ensured that the husband was entitled to permanent residence as from a date long before the baby was born, making the baby British at birth.
  • Imminent threat of removal: Sheona is working with a Clinic student to issue a Judicial Review (JR) for a Pakistani woman who has been denied a number of applications to stay in the UK as the wife and carer of her older husband. The Home Office has accepted she is married but not that her husband needs care. She has now received a letter from the Home Office stating that she will be removed from the UK on or after 17 January 2019. Filing a JR will enable the Clinic to ask the Judge to put the removal process on hold while the Clinic team continues to work on the case.
  • Sexual harassment case: Student Committee Chair Emily Ham reported on an Employment Tribunal she had attended at which she represented her client in a preliminary hearing of a complicated sexual harassment case. The client had been suspended and dismissed without notice. Before coming to the Clinic, she had put in a claim to the Employment Tribunal but the problem was that she had concentrated on the whistleblowing aspect and had not made any claim in respect of sexual harassment. At the hearing, Emily established her client’s right to bring a claim of sexual harassment. This resulted in the employer, who had previously refused to negotiate, making an offer of three months notice pay. Emily and Clinic Employment Law Adviser Tony Pullen (who is Emily’s supervisor), are hoping to negotiate a settlement of the claim without the need for a full hearing. Tony praised Emily’s advocacy and her ability to make a complex case clear and arguable. (Emily and Tony are pictured above.)
  • New enquiry: One of the enquiries that came into the Clinic over Christmas involves a client whose son’s arm was broken in an incident at his primary school. The client was forced to cancel a family holiday as a result of her son’s injuries. The costs of the cancelled holiday were mostly covered by insurance but the client is suing the families of the children who tripped up her son for an outstanding amount of just over £300. Graham led a discussion in which students thought about whether it is possible for such a claim to succeed. Clinic students were asked to consider whether children under the age of 10 could be liable for injuries caused (torts) or whether, if such injuries occurred, the children’s parents are the right people to be sued – should it be the school instead? A lively discussion ensued which will be continued next week.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest news and events from the Law Clinic, keep an eye on the Clinic noticeboard (in the main office of the Clinic) and/or subscribe to the Clinic mailing list:

All are welcome to attend the Law Clinic’s weekly meetings held at 2pm on Tuesdays in term time.

Discussions were ongoing at the end of the meeting!