Who? Lucy Cadd, solicitor, Leigh Day, London.
Why is she in the news? Successfully represented the claimant in RR v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that courts and tribunals can set aside government regulations that are incompatible with human rights legislation. The case stemmed from challenges to the 2013 benefits changes widely labelled as the ‘bedroom tax’.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The success of this case is a relief to my client. It is also a relief to the 155 individuals in a similar situation to my client, who have been waiting many years to find out whether they will be paid (or retain) their full entitlement to housing benefit. It will also be a relief to those individuals in the future who may face a similar injustice to that of RR. They can now be confident that the specialist social welfare tribunal has the power to provide an effective human rights remedy. In doing so, those individuals won’t need to hire a lawyer, nor will they have to wait many years before the unjust legislation has been successfully challenged by way of judicial review; this is the important consequential result of this case. I am indebted to my colleague, Carolin Ott, who prepared this case for the Supreme Court while I have been on maternity leave.’
Dealing with the media: ‘This case is an atypical human rights case in that it doesn’t easily translate into a simple, punchy headline. The dense and convoluted procedural history and the legal technicality of the case deterred many a journalist from covering it. Thankfully, a couple of loyal and dedicated journalists have followed the case from its inception, but it has been a team effort to ensure the message is simplified yet still accurate.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘To achieve positive change, however small the result might be in reality.’
Career high: ‘My clients are inspiring, determined human beings. I learn a lot from them. RR is a perfect example. RR was not set to gain financially from this case should he win, but he was hypothetically liable to pay back a portion of his housing benefit should he lose. Many people have and will benefit from his case and his courage in bringing it.’
Career low: ‘Nothing is more frustrating and sad than when an important human rights case cannot be brought because there is no funding for it. The coalition government cut access to legal aid brutally. This electoral cycle carries a renewed threat to existing human rights legislation. Yet access to justice whatever your circumstances and human rights should not be negotiable in our society.’