Prison Law Team. Leading prison lawyers. We re and we believe everyone has the right to justice and for their voice to be heard.

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1 We re and we believe everyone has the right to justice and for their voice to be heard. Prison Law Team Leading prison lawyers The firm has a burgeoning prison practice and has been handling an increasing amount of work for prisoners with disabilities. Sources commend the strength and depth of the firm s resources, which enable it to tackle large and complex litigation. Chambers and Partners Guide to the Legal Profession

2 Why choose Leigh Day? Healthcare Over the last decade, we have successfully acted for prisoners in a wide range of legal cases, including personal injury and clinical negligence claims, breach of human rights claims, unlawful discrimination claims, judicial review challenges, sexual abuse claims, unlawful detention claims, inquests following a death in custody and applications to the European Court of Human Rights. The Leigh Day Prison Law Team have a distinguished track record of successfully representing people in prisons throughout England and Wales for over 10 years. We only act for those who have suffered injury or whose rights have been violated. We are not afraid to take on difficult or unpopular cases that push the boundaries of the law and which may be of little interest to other firms. We have experience in a wide range of different types of legal cases and can advise on the most appropriate claim to bring in any particular situation. We act for people in prison using public funding ( legal aid ) or under a conditional fee agreement ( no win, no fee ). When we take a case on, we will visit the client in prison or speak to them by video conference. Your case will be handled by a named, legally qualified member of staff who the client is able to write to or speak with by telephone. People in prison are entitled to the same standard of healthcare as those in the wider community. Sadly, all too often, this is not the case. Despite responsibility for the commissioning of healthcare passing to the NHS, healthcare provision in prison remains variable and often substandard. Commonly, there is a failure to adequately assess the healthcare needs of a person when they first arrive in prison or to obtain their previous medical records. Regularly, there is a reluctance to believe a person or to prescribe them the necessary medication. All too frequently, there is an unwillingness to refer a person to hospital for further tests and treatment and then long waits to attend scheduled appointments made worse by the common cancellation of these appointments. There is often a failure to properly consider people for early release on compassionate grounds when terminally ill, severely incapacitated or their detention is endangering their health. Even more fundamentally, there can also be a failure to consider whether those people with severe mental health problems should be detained in prison at all or transferred to a secure hospital for more appropriate treatment. The Team are active members of the Association of Prison Lawyers, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Action against Medical Accidents, the Criminal Justice and Acquired Brain Injury Group and the Discrimination Law Association. The Leigh Day Prison Law Team, headed by Sean Humber, are recognised as experts in prison law in all of the legal directories. Page 2 I prisoner hotline: Leigh Day I Prison Lawyers Page 3

3 Discrimination It is unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. The Equality Act not only requires prisons to ensure that prisoners do not suffer discrimination on any of these grounds but also to take steps to actively promote equality. Discrimination can occur when a prison deliberately treats a particular type of prisoner differently or operates in a way that makes it much more difficult for the prisoner to do something. A succession of damning independent reports confirm that many prisoners continue to suffer a wide range of discrimination which leaves them unable to participate in day-to-day prison life or progress through the prison system. For example, there is often a failure to identify, assess or address the disability needs of people in prison, particularly elderly prisoners, who may experience difficulties washing, dressing, moving around the prison and attending work, education or offending behaviour courses. Other common examples include elderly prisoners being paid less than younger prisoners, prisoners being prevented from practicing aspects of their religion, female prisoners having less access to open prisons than male prisoners and transgender prisoners not being allowed to wear appropriate clothing. Human Rights There are certain fundamental rights and freedoms that belong to everyone, including those in prison. Prison authorities are required to operate in a way that respects these rights. The European Convention on Human Rights is an international treaty, which sets out a number of fundamental rights owed to all people. These include the following: Right to life; Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment; Right to liberty and security; Right to a fair trial; No punishment without law; Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence; Freedom of thought, belief and religion; Freedom of expression; Right to marry and start a family; Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms; Protection of your property; Right to participate in free elections. The Human Rights Act allows individuals to bring cases arguing that these rights have been violated in courts in the UK so that, in most situations, it is no longer necessary for people to complain to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In recent years, there have been numerous cases where the Courts, either in the UK or in Strasbourg, have found that prisons have violated these rights. These include interference with prisoners legal mail, handcuffing of prisoners at hospital appointments, failing to observe prisoners at risk of self-harm and the blanket ban on prisoners from voting. Page 4 I prisoner hotline: Leigh Day I Prison Lawyers Page 5

4 Recent cases Meet the team Examples of recent cases that we have brought on behalf of people in prison include: Healthcare A successful compensation claim in relation to the delay in referring a prisoner with pancreatic cancer to hospital for treatment. A successful compensation claim on behalf of a prisoner who received inadequate treatment for a head injury which left him virtually blind in one eye. A successful judicial review challenge with regard to the failure to transfer a prisoner with mental health problems from prison to a secure hospital for treatment. A successful compensation claim on behalf of a prisoner handcuffed during a two week hospital admission. Discrimination A successful judicial review challenge on behalf of a severely disabled prisoner in relation to the prison authorities failure to provide him with a motorised wheelchair and allocate him to an appropriately adapted disabled cell. A successful judicial review claim on behalf of a female prisoner with regard to the lack of disabled facilities in women s open prisons. An ongoing judicial review challenge on behalf of a Muslim prisoner in relation to being allowed to take his medication at an appropriate time during Ramadan. A successful judicial review claim on behalf of a prisoner with learning disabilities in relation to the prison authorities failure to adapt Offending Behaviour Programmes. Human Rights A successful judicial review challenge on behalf of a prisoner to stop prison authorities from reading his legal mail. A successful claim for compensation in relation to the unlawful detention of a prisoner following the completion of his sentence while his asylum application was considered. A successful compensation claim on behalf of a female prisoner who was sexually assaulted by prison staff. An ongoing claim on behalf of over 500 prisoners refused the right to vote in the 2010 General Election. Sean Humber Partner Sean Humber is a partner in the Prison Law Team and heads the Human Rights Department at Leigh Day. He acts for individuals and campaign groups on a wide range of discrimination and human rights issues. Sean is recognised as an expert in prison law matters in all the legal directories. He has spoken at a House of Lords seminar on prisoners treatment and care, and has given oral evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee on older prisoners. Sean has been shortlisted for the Index on Censorship Legal Award for his work on behalf of prisoners and has chaired the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA s) annual conference on prisoners healthcare issues. Benjamin Burrows Solicitor Benjamin Burrows is a solicitor in the Prison Law Team. He has successfully acted for a number of prisoner clients in healthcare, discrimination and human rights issues. Benjamin has a Bachelors degree in History and a Masters degree in international development. He worked for a number of international charities and NGOs, before training to become a solicitor. Benjamin joined Leigh Day as a trainee in September 2007 and qualified as a solicitor in October He is a founding member of the Criminal Justice and Brain Injury Interest Group, as well as a member of the Association for Prison Lawyers and Human Rights Lawyers Association. Daniel Duff Paralegal Daniel Duff is a paralegal in the Prison Law Team, having joined Leigh Day in He assists Sean and Benjamin with the team s diverse caseload and is the point of contact for all prisoner enquiries. Daniel studied Law at University and was called to the Bar in Prior to working at Leigh Day, Daniel gained Prison Law experience with the Prisoners Advice Service and has successfully represented immigration detainees in bail proceedings. Daniel is an active member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers and the Human Rights Lawyers Association. Page 6 I prisoner hotline: Leigh Day I Prison Lawyers Page 7

5 Query Form Query Form continued: If you have a concern which you wish the Prison Law Team to consider, please complete this query form, detach from this booklet and return to us using the envelope enclosed. Name: Prison Number: Prison Name and Address: Your Query: Page 8 I prisoner hotline: Leigh Day I Prison Lawyers Page 9

6 was established in 1987 and has become a highly distinctive law firm that is not afraid to take on challenges that would daunt many others. The firm s ethos is to ensure that the ordinary person has just as good quality legal advice as our state bodies, insurers and multi-nationals which has led us to take on many David and Goliath legal struggles for justice. Sean Humber is praised by barristers for his meticulous preparation, case management and technical ability. A key focus is prisoners rights, including the right to vote. Chambers and Partners Guide to the Legal Profession Leigh Day, Priory House, 25 St John s Lane, London EC1M 4LB Prisoner hotline T F E

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