Who? Sara Lomri, solicitor and deputy legal director at the Public Law Project.
Why is she in the news? Represented RF, who successfully challenged the government over changes to disability benefits. The High Court found that certain rules governing Personal Independence Payments were unlawful and discriminated against people with mental health impairments. The Department for Work and Pensions, which is not challenging the ruling, will review 1.6 million disability benefit claims made over the past four years. An estimated 220,000 claimants could receive higher backdated awards.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The case highlights a really important access to justice point. Lots of organisations and politicians knew about the unfairness of the regulations and were concerned about the impact on those with mental health impairments. However, the case was brought by one brave individual who knew that the regulations would have a huge impact. This case exemplifies the importance of the availability and accessibility of judicial review as a vital check and balance on executive power and the need for a meaningful legal aid system.
‘Much work needs to be done by all of those affected and involved in the system to ensure that the new guidance and review process is fair.’
Dealing with the media: ‘For health reasons, RF was not able to deal with the media directly, but wanted news about her case to be communicated widely. As she says: “Otherwise, what’s the point?”’
Why become a lawyer? ‘To do something useful with my life.’
Career high: ‘Realising that law is most effective when working in collaboration with those outside the legal world. It means that there is no end of opportunity to use the law to make the world fairer.’
Career low: ‘Without doubt, the stress and anxiety of returning to work after two periods of maternity leave, having lost my footing and not knowing in which direction to turn. I do not think I am alone in that experience and part of the answer begins with sector-wide organisational planning for periods of absence.’