Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) was founded in 1999 by Solicitor Phil Shiner. In its early years PIL led the way in Claimant Environmental Judicial Review cases successfully challenging the proposed building of a wide range of facilities from incinerators to open-cast mines where the respective authorities had not complied with their legal obligations and duties. PIL soon established a reputation for having the tenacity and skill to litigate cases at the very highest level to ensure that the Rule of Law was upheld.
PIL soon began applying its exceptional brand of litigation to a wide range of Judicial Review cases. These included a successful Judicial Review on behalf of the Ghurkha prisoners of war as well as a Judicial Review on behalf of Al-Haq to challenge the UK Governments support of Israel’s unlawful actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In 2002 PIL was instructed by CND to challenge the legality of the pending Iraq War, shortly after this PIL was instructed by Colonel Daoud Mousa, the Father of Baha Mousa who had died in the custody of British troops (1QLR) in Basra shortly after his arrest with his bodies bearing the hallmark of an horrendous ordeal during which he was beaten and tortured. Those who were arrested with Baha Mousa were also tortured but survived. This led to the case of Al-Skeini and also to the Baha Mousa Inquiry. This was the beginning of a long and continuing legal battle surrounding the actions of UK forces in Iraq during which a substantial number of Judicial reviews have been launched against the Secretary of State for Defence, each of them seeking an ECHR compliant investigation into some of the most egregious human rights breaches witnessed in modern times. The Court has recently ordered a number of Inquest type investigations into a number of deaths as well as ordering investigations into all of the alleged cases of unlawful detention and ill-treatment.
Closer to home PIL has used the law to challenge a number of abuses of power by the executive, both nationally and locally. In particular in recent times PIL has been instructed in a number of legal challenges to both Central Government and Local Authorities that come as a direct result of the austerity measures being driven by the coalition Government. These have included successful Judicial Review cases challenging the closures of Libraries in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Surrey. PIL is also instructed in a number of further challenges to library closures across the UK. PIL has successfully challenged the Governments unlawful Workfare Program which forced unemployed people claiming Jobseekers Allowance to work on behalf of big national and multinational companies for free or otherwise face benefits sanctions. PIL has also been involved in numerous Judicial Review challenges at local level as well as also successfully defending the right of individuals to bring Judicial Review proceedings in cases in which the Claimant is not directly affected by the acts or omissions of the Defendant. PIL also sought to challenge the increase in Tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 per year arguing that the Secretary of State had failed in his public sector equality duties. The Court found that the Secretary of State had failed in his PSED but decided against quashing the regulations and plunging the higher education system into chaos. PIL also acts in cases where it is alleged that the Secretary of State has failed in his duty to provide educational needs for young people subject to local authority care under the Children’s Act 1989. PIL acts in several cases arising out of the alleged unlawful actions of the UK armed forces in Afghanistan. These cases cover a wide range of issues and are presently being litigated in the Administrative Court. PIL also has cases arising out of the alleged unlawful actions of a multinational company in Africa.
PIL provides a voice for the ordinary man, woman and child in Britain and beyond. We are living in a very challenging period in our history and we can expect to face a further number of difficult situations in which the executive will try to force a number of measures on a society that is already at breaking point. Our team at PIL is here to help you fight for your rights against the unfettered power of the executive when these situations arise, whether they arise on UK or foreign soil.