Since 2000, our legal advice clinic has provided a free service including representation in court and tribunals to the local residents of Tower Hamlets who could not otherwise access legal support.
Our London office's largest and longest running pro bono programme, the clinic runs every Tuesday evening, staffed solely by Herbert Smith Freehills lawyers and trainees.
We also fund a duty solicitor and an administrative assistant to support the clinic's work, and provide training on social welfare law for our volunteer lawyers.
Read more about a range of cases we have helped below.
Successfully defending a £20,000 claim
A resident was involved in an accident, through no fault of her own. Another law firm encouraged her to make a claim for personal injury, but her lawyer mishandled the claim and it was struck out .
Two years later, the firm sought fees and disbursements from her totalling £20,000, asserting that the strike-out was our client's fault.
Taking on her case, an HSF associate sought evidence from the other law firm. When the firm failed to serve evidence, the judge struck out the claim and made a pro bono costs order of £3,000 in favour of the Access to Justice Foundation.
Assisting a local resident to move away from unsuitable high-rise accommodation
Our client needed to move from her seventh floor council accommodation for health reasons, but the landlord refused her request for a more suitable home because her ex-husband of two years remained a joint tenant to the tenancy agreement. The landlord demanded her ex-husband's consent to terminate the current tenancy, or a court order removing the ex-husband from the tenancy.
Because the ex-husband had disappeared, it was impossible to obtain his consent. Our trainee lawyer went to court with the client and her son, in order to obtain a court order that the client's ex-husband's name be removed from the tenancy immediately. The order was granted, enabling the client to move into a more suitable new home.
Recovering money for a vulnerable client
Our team recovered the full sum of £61,000 plus £5,400 interest for an elderly client who had invested the money she received from her late husband's will into a friend's "savings club". The friend, an ex-financial adviser, told the client to invest the money into his "savings club" – a portfolio of savings accounts which the friend promised would generate a substantial amount of interest. However, the interest did not materialise and the sums were never repaid. The client sought the help of the Clinic, which promptly began proceedings. Following a difficult and acrimonious dispute, the client received £46,000 of her money back. The team then assisted the client in issuing a statutory demand for the remainder, following which the client received the remaining £15,000 plus £5,400 interest.
Bringing a claim for sexual and racial harassment
The client sought assistance to bring a claim against her employer for sexual harassment, race discrimination and victimisation. The client was subject to a number of instances of harassment, including a serious instance of sexual harassment from her line manager, and a number of incidents of racial harassment form her line manager and colleagues. She complained to the company at the time of the incident and was no longer offered shifts as a result of this complaint.
Our team assisted the client in bringing a claim at the Employment Tribunal and represented the client at a judicial mediation which was held the week before trial was listed. Following 9 hours of intense negotiations a settlement was reached, which included both monetary and non-monetary concessions from the employer, who promised to implement a more robust equal opportunities and anti-harassment training program.