Court judgments which uphold the rights of individuals can be key to bringing about broader social change. The Scotland Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998, by integrating the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, are key tools in holding decision-makers to account for their respect for human rights. We see strategic litigation as a tool with the potential to further realise the rights of children and young people and thereby improve their lives.
The law in Scotland on who can bring judicial review proceedings changed relatively recently and gives organisations such as charities the opportunity to engage in public interest litigation by challenging decision-makers in the Court of Session.
Interest in third party interventions in cases before the Scottish courts is increasing. Clan Childlaw recently intervened in two cases:
Clan Childlaw coordinates a project, supported by the Baring Foundation, the Legal Education Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which seeks to highlight the benefits of using the law, legal processes and human rights to progress policy issues to tackle discrimination and disadvantage in relation to children in Scotland. It brings together voluntary sector organisations, lawyers and other professionals working in the field of children’s rights to identify ways to use the law more effectively to achieve policy aims.
As part of this project, we coordinate a Children's Rights Strategic Litigation Group which meets periodically as a forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration on using the law to further children's rights in Scotland. If you would like to know more or join the group, please contact our Legal Policy Coordinator, Janet Cormack, at [email protected].
In October 2016 we organised a Roundtable on Children’s Rights in Scotland: using the law and human rights to advance policy. The event brought together around 60 representatives of voluntary organisations, lawyers and other professionals working in children’s rights. The speakers' presentations and other conference materials and resources on strategic litigation can be found here.