Govanhill Law Centre Legal Advice in Govanhill Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:12:48 +0000 en hourly 1 Govanhill Law Centre Most Popular Support Organisation in Govanhill for Roma Community Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:10:58 +0000 Govanhill City Council report confirms law centre most popular support organisation in Govanhill for Roma community]]> A report commissioned by Glasgow City Council’s Development and Regeneration Service has confirmed that Govanhill Law Centre (GhLC) was the most popular support service amongst members of the Slovak and Czech Roma community in Glasgow’s Southside.

GhLC is part of the Govan Law Centre Trust. The report by Peter Crkon found that awareness of advocacy and support organisations in the Govanhill area of the City was reasonably high with over 60% of respondents having used local agencies at least occasionally, and 42% using them regularly. Awareness amongst those surveyed by the council was as follows:

  • 66% – Govanhill Law Centre
  • 59% – Crossroads
  • 9% – Glasgow Regeneration Agency
  • 6% – Daisy Street Neighbourhood Centre
  • 2% – social work, health visitors and interpreters

The report was tasked with examining the economic performance and human capital levels of Slovak and Czech Romani migrants who lived in the neighbourhood of Govanhill, Glasgow. The report looked at a number of factors including education levels, English language skills, length of residence, employment and labour force participation: ‘An Assessment of the Human Capital Levels and Economic Performance of A8 Romani Migrants in Govanhill‘, Peter Crkon, DRS, Glasgow City Council.

GLC’s work in Govanhill is funded and supported by the Scottish Government.


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Challenging Your ‘Bedroom Tax’ Decision Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:01:30 +0000 Govanhill Launch of GLC 'toolkit guide' calling for mass take-up challenge to bedroom tax housing benefit decisions]]> Govan Law Centre has launched a free ‘toolkit guide’ to help tenants challenge cuts to their housing benefit with the introduction of the bedroom tax from this month.  Tenants issued with a ‘bedroom tax’ decision by their local council only have one month to challenge it. They can only appeal later than this if they have a good reason for the delay, such as illness.

GLC’s toolkit contains a number of untested legal arguments which tenants can select and insert into a pro forma ‘Dispute Form’. Some of these relate to court challenges taking place in England and Wales, and if these are successful tenants can only benefit from them for past deductions if they have lodged a ‘Dispute Form’ with their council because of the ‘anti-test case rules’.

GLC’s toolkit provides step by step guidance and illustrations on how to complete a ‘Dispute Form’ – what to say, where to send it to, where you can get further advice, what will happen next.  We hope the toolkit will be of assistance to both tenants and advisors alike. We believe many tenants will have grounds in principle to challenge

If you would like a copy of GLC’s toolkit guide please visit our webpage here, and we will provide you with the option to download the toolkit in either PDF or rich text formats, and in addition we will e-mail you the links to download it too. We are asking for the first part of your postcode so that we can work out the level of take up across the country.

Although our guide is aimed specifically at Scotland for simplicity, the guidance and pro forma guidance is equally applicable in England and Wales as housing benefit is a UK-wide law, and the arguments for challenging the bedroom tax are also UK-wide.

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GLC to Participate in Free Scottish Mortgage Repossession Conferences Tue, 16 Oct 2012 14:33:41 +0000 Govanhill GLC’s Principal Solicitor will be speaking at a free conference focussing on recent legislative and case law changes in Scottish mortgage repossession law, in Glasgow on 3 December 2012.

The event is being hosted and sponsored by the Carrington Dean Group. Mike will provide a review of recent Scottish case law, with a focus on statutory pre-action requirements and the issue of legal costs and charges in repossession cases. Other confirmed speakers include, Citizen Advice Scotland, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and Tom McEntegart, managing director of TLT Solicitors. The conference will include an afternoon panel debate session chaired by advocate and Scottish Legal Action Group chairman, Robert Sutherland.

The conference will be held in the Laprohaig Theatre, Teacher’s Building, Glasgow on the December 3, 2012. A shorter seminar will be held in the Ramada Encore Hotel in Inverness on December 6. Anyone interested should contact in the first instance.

Both events are free to advisers and solicitors working in the industry.

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Lenders new PAR arguments rejected in NRAM, Santander & Nationwide – V – Doyle & Others Thu, 11 Oct 2012 15:06:40 +0000 Govanhill ]]> New legal arguments by Aberdein Considine & Co., solicitors on behalf of three UK lenders have been rejected in a Scottish judgement from Sheriff Deutsch at Glasgow Sheriff Court. The judgment pertains to five separate mortgage repossession actions which were heard together earlier this year, with GLC’s Principal Solicitor acting for all five defenders.

The ‘Doyle judgment’ provides helpful discussion on what lenders need to do to satisfy the 2010 Pre-Action Requirements (PAR) Order, with examples of three cases which failed to meet the ‘minimum standard’ required under the 2010 Order, and two cases which met the statutory test.

The Pursuers’ solicitors unsuccessful challenged the ratio in Northern Rock (Asset Management) Plc v. Millar 2012 SLT (Sh Ct) 58, but had also set forward a number of new legal arguments which had not been considered in Millar. A number of new propositions were advanced, including: that the Interpretation Act 1978 did not apply; ‘default’ was truly under standard condition 9(1)(b); there should be a flexible time for PAR compliance; and that there was no mandatory requirement to comply with regulation 2 of the 2010 Order. All of these arguments were rejected by the court.

The Pursuers’ solicitors were able to show that there had been actual compliance with the PAR in two out of the five cases, and accordingly these were continued to determine further procedure, while three actions were dismissed as incompetent. The full judgment is available here (online PDF).

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Govanhill Law Centre solicitor featured on BBC Radio Scotland program “Meet the Roma” Fri, 22 Jul 2011 13:21:32 +0000 Govanhill Have a listen to BBC Radio Scotland's "Meet the Roma" contributions from Roma young people living in Govanhill, a local Roma health worker Marcela Adamova and Lorraine Barrie from Govanhill Law Centre.]]> Have a listen to BBC Radio Scotland’s “Meet the Roma”  contributions from Roma young people living in Govanhill, a local Roma health worker Marcela Adamova and Lorraine Barrie from Govanhill Law Centre.

Please click here to listen.

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Govanhill Law Centre’s Response to proposed closure of Bilingual Support Unit Mon, 04 Jul 2011 15:21:00 +0000 Govanhill Govanhill Law Centre has serious concerns about Glasgow City Council's proposal to close the Bilingual Support Unit (BSU) at Shawlands Academy, as part of a reconfiguration of English as an Additional Language provision. Please click the picture to read our response.]]> Govanhill Law Centre has serious concerns about Glasgow City Council’s proposal to close the Bilingual Support Unit (BSU) at Shawlands Academy, as part of a reconfiguration of English as an Additional Language provision.  Click here to read our response.

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Goodbye Zuzana! Wed, 29 Jun 2011 10:20:55 +0000 Govanhill Our fantastic Caseworker and Interpreter Zuzana Vacekova is leaving Govanhill Law Centre today.]]> Zuzana has worked at Govanhill Law Centre since we opened in November 2008 -she has worked extremely hard for her clients, giving benefits advice, submitting complex appeals and interpreting for Czech and Slovak clients in solicitor appointments.

Zuzana has resolved hundreds of complex benefits queries, and her successes have regularly lifted vulnerable families out of extreme poverty.

We would like to thank Zuzana for her hard work and dedication, and wish her all the best for the future.

Govanhill Law Centre Team


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Govanhill Law Centre Client Wins Sex Discrimination Case Tue, 17 May 2011 14:18:39 +0000 Govanhill A Govanhill Law Centre client has recently received payment from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) of £18,357.57 following a successful Employment Tribunal claim. ]]> A Govanhill Law Centre client has recently received payment from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) of £18,357.57 following a successful Employment Tribunal claim.

Mrs. R, who wishes to remain anonymous, raised a claim against her former employer for unfair dismissal as a result of pregnancy, and sex discrimination.
Mrs R had worked for P.I.A on a series of fixed term contracts for around 18 months. She took a period of authorised unpaid leave to attend a family wedding. Mrs R fell ill at the wedding and her husband contacted her employer to advise she would be unable to return on time. Despite the fact she produced a medical certificate, Mrs R was dismissed for gross misconduct on her return to work, without having an opportunity to explain her position. Ms R appealed the decision but her appeal letter was ignored. Mrs R believed that the real reason she had been dismissed was because her employer knew she was pregnant and wanted to use her sick leave as an excuse to dismiss her.
After hearing three days of evidence, the Tribunal found that the true reason Mrs R had been dismissed was because she was pregnant and that she had been unfairly dismissed. The Tribunal held that this constituted an act of sex discrimination, contrary to section 3A(1) (a) of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Mrs R was represented by GhLC solicitor Lindsay Paterson at the hearing.
The Tribunal issued its decision in October 2010, but Mrs R has only recently received her settlement. As a result of the delayed payment, the Respondents were forced to pay additional interest of £237.37 to Mrs R.
Mrs R said: “While I worked at P.I.A. my boss treated me badly. He told me I should wear high heels to look smart and tall. He insulted me in front of my colleagues. I was dismissed after he knew I had fallen pregnant and this caused me a lot of stress and financial worries. My husband and I had to move out of our home as we could not afford the rent”.
“I am very happy with the Tribunal decision. I had worked in the travel industry for 7 years and I felt my good reputation had been damaged. I can now hold my head up high and feel confident to apply for jobs in the future. I want to thank Govanhill Law Centre – if it was not for them, I would not have won my case “.
Lorraine Barrie, Associate Solicitor at Govanhill Law Centre said: “We are delighted that our client has now received full payment from her former employer, after a long wait. Our client was very distressed following her dismissal and she suffered significant financial worries when her first baby was on the way. We are pleased that the Tribunal have recognised the significant stress caused to our client by awarding £5,000 for injury to her feelings”.
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Scottish Parliament Committee hear evidence of employers who “take advantage” of migrant workers Tue, 18 Jan 2011 16:38:28 +0000 Govanhill Photobucket Govanhill Law Centre's submission to the Scottish Parliament's Inquiry into Migration and Trafficking has been cited in the Parliament's final report. The Inquiry, held by the Equal Opportunities Committee last year, heard evidence from a large number of stakeholders including migrants, local authorities, the voluntary sector, police, academics, journalists, MSPs and the Crown Office. The innovative partnership working approach of the Hub in Govanhill was recognised by the Committee as an example of good practice. ]]> logoBadgeNew

Govanhill Law Centre’s submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Inquiry into Migration and Trafficking has been cited in the Parliament’s final report.  The Inquiry, held by the Equal Opportunities Committee last year, heard evidence from a large number of stakeholders including migrants, local authorities, the voluntary sector, police, academics, journalists, MSPs and the Crown Office. The innovative partnership working approach of the Hub in Govanhill was recognised by the Committee as an example of good practice.

The Inquiry heard evidence on the nature and extent of migration to Scotland and described the lack of migration data, public perceptions about migration and the influence of the media as “key overarching issues“.  The Committee recognised key challenges in “improving awareness among migrants about public services, and their rights and entitlements“, “employment including exploitative employment practices“, health, education, housing, policing and enforcement.

Govanhill Law Centre Solicitor Lorraine Barrie said “we are pleased that the Committee have recognised the significant barriers many migrants experience when living and working in Scotland in terms of receiving advice and information about their rights and practical barriers to reporting exploitative employers.   We are also pleased that the partnership working approach of the Hub in Govanhill, which we are part of, has been recognised as an example of good practice“.


Part of the job of Government is to ensure that migrants who are here are aware of their rights“ Alex Neil, MSP

The Committee heard from migrant workers that on their arrival, “many migrants do not know what public services are available or where to turn for help or advice on issues such as employment and health care.  They often do not know about their rights and entitlements for example in relation to benefits and housing“.

Heather Rolfe of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research stated there is a low level of awareness among migrants about their rights to public services and to entitlements, but added “of more concern, some services have a low level of awareness of the rights of migrants, particularly in the area of housing“. This view was echoed by Rami Ousta of BEMIS (Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland): “some migrant groups are very aware of their rights but local authorities and others are not clear about their legal entitlements, which causes confusion“.

The Report concluded that “the Committee believes it is vital for information to be made available to migrants on their arrival in Scotland so that they know what their legal and civic rights and entitlements are, and to assist them in sourcing help and information“.  The Report continues “the Committee was extremely concerned to hear it suggested in evidence that, not only do many migrants not know about their rights and entitlements, but that some public services are often not fully aware of these either.  While the Committee accepts that the issues may be complex, it finds this situation unacceptable as these services are relied upon to offer help and accurate advice.  The Committee recommends that the Scottish Government should investigate and address this particular issue as a matter of urgency and to report to the Committee on its findings“.


It was clear in evidence that there are a number of employers who take advantage of people who come to Scotland to work and who prey on their fears and anxieties.  This is both unacceptable and illegal“. Report, paragraph 231.

Our written submission to the Committee (which can be read in full here tells the story of over 20 of our clients from Slovakia and Czech Republic who sought advice in March 2010.  They had responded to job adverts in their home countries, had paid £450 each and arrived in Glasgow to find no job and substandard accommodation. Our clients were not entitled to social assistance and were hungry, cold and afraid. Frighteningly, our clients were subject to violence and threats of violence by the employment agency and Scottish landlords. The landlords involved showed scant regard for the law and cut of clients’ gas, electricity and water.

Lorraine Barrie continues “Workers in the Govanhill community have told us that over the past 5 years, hundreds of Czech and Slovakian nationals had fallen victim to this scam. Our clients showed bravery in sharing their stories with Strathclyde Police and the relevant enforcement agencies. Despite a strong commitment from staff working on the ground, our concern at Govanhill Law Centre is that the victims and the local community have seen no prosecution for unlawful evictions and harassment of residential occupiers, which are criminal offences under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984.

If victims have the bravery to come forward and report unlawful conduct and they see nothing changing, they will lose confidence in the commitment of the statutory agencies to bring law breakers to justice. A lesson that should be learned by statutory organisations when dealing with migrant victims of crime is that often victims and witnesses move away to find work or safe accommodation. These delays have made it impossible to gather evidence and as a result, criminals have not been brought to justice“.


In relation to the Workers Registration Scheme “Govanhill Law Centre told the Committee that there is a lack of awareness among migrants of the Scheme and how it works“.  We explained the common scenario where an A8 national is registered with the Scheme for their first job, but are unaware they are required to register again if they change jobs within one year. This means the worker is prevented from completing one year’s continuous service, which adversely affects their entitlement to social welfare benefits.

Lorraine continues “many of our clients have worked in the UK for 2 or 3 years continuously, but are not deemed to have completed 1 year of continuous work because employers have provided them with wrong information. This misinformation is not confined to the stereotypical rogue employers operating in the city.  One highly educated client with excellent English had been working at an independent school for several years, and had been repeatedly advised he was not required to register. Moreover was not receiving his holiday and other statutory entitlements.  Despite the fact he had lived here for 3 years, none of his work was registered. This client did not feel able to make a complaint because he was scared to lose his job. This is a pattern we see on a regular basis and echoes the findings of the Committee, that migrants can be frightened to complain about exploitation and abuse“.

We will continue to work within the Hub, lobby elected members and campaign on the issues of unlawful evictions and breaches of employment law and press for criminal actions to be pursued quickly and vigorously. This is the only way for unlawful conduct and exploitation to end.

The report can be read in full at

]]> 0 Unlawful eviction article in the Journal magazine Tue, 18 Jan 2011 14:21:09 +0000 Govanhill The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland recently published an article by Govanhill Law Centre solicitors Lorraine Barrie and Lindsay Paterson on the lack of convictions in Scotland for the crime of illegal eviction. Here is an excerpt- you can read the article in full at 1008870.aspx

I returned home to find the locks had been changed. I phoned the landlord. He told me I was being evicted for rent arrears, which was not true. We only had the clothes we were standing in. All our furniture, clothing, toys, food, electrical equipment and my medication was in the house. Two weeks later, the landlord threw out all my belongings on the street. Things were lying in the gutter and were ruined. I phoned the police. The police watched me picking up my stuff and said ‘Maybe next time you will pay your rent’.”

The above quote was given by one of our clients. As solicitors in two busy Glasgow law centres, we often come across people with similar stories.

This is despite the fact that unlawful eviction has been a crime in Scotland since the Protection from Eviction Act 1964, the law now being contained in the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984.

Worryingly, however, although we tell our clients that unlawful eviction is a criminal offence, when they try to report an unlawful eviction or harassment to the police, they are offered little or no assistance. Often they are told it is “a civil matter” and they should speak to a solicitor.
To our frustration, no landlords or agent who has unlawfully evicted clients of ours has ever been charged with Rent Act offences. We decided to investigate whether our experiences were typical. We made freedom of information requests to all the police forces in Scotland as well as the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We also discussed matters with local police officers. The results confirmed our concerns that the crime of unlawful eviction is virtually ignored in Scotland.

Since 2003, 14 people have been convicted of offences under s 22 of the Act (unlawful eviction or harassment of a residential occupier). An average of two convictions per year appears very low, considering that in March this year, 11 clients instructed us in one day alone because they had been harassed by their landlord. In our Govanhill office, we currently represent more than 20 clients who have been the victims of unlawful eviction or harassment.

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