A group of City pro bono lawyers is taking aim at local authority cuts affecting vulnerable elderly and disabled residents.

The lawyers will scrutinise care fee contracts that councils seek to vary, and bring judicial reviews of cuts estimated to add up to £1bn.

The William’s Way Project is the initiative of Christopher Digby-Bell, general counsel and deputy chairman of real estate venture capital and fund management business Palmer Capital. The project is named after his disabled adult son.

Digby-Bell told the Gazette: ‘The current economic crisis has brought out the worst in some councils who have forgotten about the principles of fairness and honour in delivering on their legal obligations and have targeted those in society who are most vulnerable and least able to stand up for themselves.’

The group was conceived following the 2011 case R (Sefton Care Association and others) v Sefton Council, where the court ruled that ‘inadequacy of central government funding’ could not excuse a failure to ‘properly assess the risks of [the council’s] decision to care homes and to residents, contrary to its duties under common law’.

Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, last week restated the government’s intention to cut the number of judicial reviews. He told the House of Lords constitution committee that the process was ‘often used for PR purposes rather than legal purposes’.