Detained Fast Track Litigation Case Study: Detention Action

Using the law for social change

Are you interested in the practice of bringing lawsuits to effect social change? This case study, commissioned by Detention Action, looks at the collaborative process that led to the suspension of the Detained Fast Track. We highlight the success factors, risks and challenges, ending with  four lessons from the strategic litigation:

  • Issues suitable for strategic litigation are likely to be entrenched, highly politicised, unlawful, well-evidenced and well-timed
  • Using strategic litigation as a campaign tool is a huge undertaking for a small organisation, and relies on quick, strategic decision-making in response to a shifting external context
  • A well thought through advocacy strategy that considers the external political and policy environment, carefully considering what approaches to use
  • Having a capable and mature NGO to front a coalition – someone to ‘put [their] head above the parapet and undertake the largely invisible legwork of building a collaboration

The Detention Action case study sits alongside another report by Dr Vanhala of UCL, examining Just for Kids Law’s intervention in R v Tigere in the Supreme Court. This case concerned the denial of student loans to lawfully resident young people who were not British citizens. In this blog, Shauneen Lambe from Just for Kids Law sets out the key findings from both case studies and invites NGOs and lawyers in the UK to think about how the law can be used to bring about social change.


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