Since 2000 the Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic has provided free legal advice and representation to the local residents of Tower Hamlets in one of London's most disadvantaged boroughs.
6000+ hours of free legal advice
100+ volunteer lawyers
Highly commended at the 2017 Law Works Pro Bono Awards for most effective pro bono partnership
Our London office's largest pro bono programme, the Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic runs every Tuesday evening, staffed solely by Herbert Smith Freehills lawyers. We provide legal advice and support on employment, housing and tenancy disputes, and consumer law.
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.
WLAC CASE STUDIES
Successfully defending a £20,000 claim
A Whitechapel 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.
Supporting a claim of unfair dismissal
Our client, a cleaning supervisor, had been dismissed for allegedly stealing from his place of employment. He contested what his employer claimed to see on blurry CCTV footage. After coming to the Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic for advice, one of our trainee lawyers drafted an appeal letter. Subsequently the lawyer assisted the client to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal, alleging the employer had not followed the correct procedure. The Tribunal ruled in our client's favour, granting him £4300.
Disability discrimination at work
Our client sought help following dismissal by her employer of 14 years, due to her amount of sick leave. She suffered from a number of disabilities, which were made clear before her employment. Her working environment exacerbated her disabilities, causing pain. Despite a doctor's note, the employer refused to modify the issue and as a result, our client fell ill. She went on sick leave for several months. Upon her return to work, she discovered that the employer had not made any modifications. During additional sickness absence, she was dismissed for taking too much time off.
Our client claimed against her employer on grounds of unfair dismissal, disability discrimination, direct and indirect discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments. Following judicial mediation the client settled for £15,000 plus a personal reference from her employer.