Record number of judicial reviews brought by NI Children’s Law Centre

Record number of judicial reviews brought by NI Children's Law Centre

Paddy Kelly

The Children’s Law Centre brought an “unprecedented” 27 judicial review cases in the past year, the highest ever.

At its AGM yesterday, the law centre launched its annual report for 2021–22, highlighting a growing workload with legal cases growing in both number and complexity.

The 27 judicial reviews span issues across mental health, special educational needs and disability, and immigration.

The law centre’s freephone advice line also saw an increase in the number of issues dealt with, while the new digital advice tool for children ‘REE Rights Responder’ also saw increased use.

Paddy Kelly, director of the CLC, said: “There can be no doubt that the gaps in children’s rights and protections had been brutally exposed during Covid. The challenge was clear for everyone to see.

“There was certainly no sign that pressure on children and young people was subsiding, with the CLC legal team continuing to deal with a challenging and complex caseload.

“The centre also continued to take on an unprecedented level of litigation. If anything, it was becoming clearer that many of the policies to tackle Covid had a disproportionate impact on children and young people, especially disabled and vulnerable children.

“Far from building back better, it quickly became apparent that key lessons had not been learned and a disregard of children’s rights persisted.”

She added: “Developments at UK government level placed children’s rights in even more peril. In December 2021, the UK Government published a consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act. This is the most serious threat to children’s rights in over 20 years.

“Challenging attempts to weaken provisions in the Human Rights Act became a major piece of work for the centre, working alongside a wide coalition of other organisations across the UK.”

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