Social enterprise offering legal aid to people seeking justice launches in Newham
PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 August 2020
A social enterprise helping people who are struggling to access justice has been launched.
The Justice Community’s services can be accessed through Citizens Advice Newham, which is based in Freemasons Road, Custom House, or directly online.
Run by qualified solicitor Clare Manuel and her son Tom, the organisation focuses on problems faced by individuals and small companies which traditional law firms consider too minor for their attention.
Tom said: “A lot of law firms take cases if there’s an 80 per cent chance of winning. We don’t think that will work so well for some of our clients who have strong cases, but don’t have the resources to take them forward.”
He explained how cuts to legal aid – which can help meet the costs of advice, mediation and representation in a court or tribunal – mean many can’t afford to access justice.
He added the legal system wasn’t designed for lay people to stand in front of a judge to make their case, but for an advocate to do the job for them, meaning many struggle to represent themselves in court.
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“The really unique thing about The Justice Community is that there is no one else who will offer to cover all your legal costs to defend your rights and only charge you anything if we manage to help you,” Tom said.
The Justice Community’s helps people avoid costly legal bills by coaching them to understand their rights, helping them with negotiating tactics and funding their court costs.
It takes payment if issues are resolved, rather than charging an hourly rate, with contributions made to its legal defence fund.
A current case sees the team helping a bar worker pursue a claim for £10,000 in unpaid wages. Clare and Tom have also helped a cleaner recover money from an employer and a client who was assaulted by a supermarket security guard.
A single mum whose bathroom was flooded by a plumbing firm which refused to do the repair work also benefitted from the enterprise’s help, Tom said.
Cllr Nazir Ahmed, deputy chairman of Newham Council, said: “Being a lawyer, who has been practicing in the East End for the past two decades, I am fully aware of the importance of quality legal advice and representation.
“I hope this initiative will help people and small businesses in securing justice and getting what they are entitled to.”
For more information visit justicecommunity.co.uk
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