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Law students join Windrush Justice Clinic

A group shot of nine men and women outside a small community centre.

Staff and students from King's Legal Clinic join colleagues from Southwark Law Centre at an outreach event in Peckham, South London for the Windrush Justice Project.

Students from King’s Legal Clinic are working with Southwark Law Centre to provide support for those claiming under the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

The Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS) was launched in April 2019, following public outcry at the UK Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation. The WCS provides compensation for those who suffered loss because they could not show they had the right to live in the UK.

Shaila Pal, Director of King’s Legal Clinic said: “The Windrush generation and their families have suffered greatly as a result of the hostile and racist immigration environment in the UK. While the Windrush Compensation Scheme is a step in the right direction in terms of righting the serious wrongs that were committed, there are many issues with the scheme and those eligible need legal assistance to access it.

“King’s College London is committed to fighting racism and racial inequality. King’s Legal Clinic aims to educate our students and promote social justice, and so we wanted our students to have the chance to help the victims of the Windrush scandal in a practical and proactive way.”

King’s students will provide support to Southwark Law Centre’s (SLC) Windrush Justice solicitor. Students will help raise awareness of the WCS through a series of workshops in the community and help prepare compensation claims. They will undertake research, gather evidence, and take notes and statements.

Sally Causer, Executive Director, Southwark Law Centre, said: “Over several decades, many citizens of countries that were part of the British Commonwealth were wrongly detained, threatened with deportation and in some cases wrongly deported from the UK, or not allowed to return. An unknown number lost their jobs or homes, or were denied benefits or medical care to which they were entitled to.

“The Windrush Justice Clinic aims to be a single point of contact for Windrush victims, offering free independent legal advice. We want the victims of this injustice to receive compensation which accurately reflects their loss and suffering."

The Windrush Compensation Scheme has been widely criticised and was the subject of an investigation by the National Audit Office. A BBC Freedom of Information request, published in May 2021, established that the average time to process a claim to the WCS was 14 months.

Shaila Pal: “There are huge barriers to accessing the WCS. There are well documented problems with its complexity and concerns about the charges levied for legal advice in this area. Despite the Home Office’s assurance that the scheme is designed ‘so that people should not need lawyers to make a claim’, the application form itself runs to 18 pages, and requires detailed calculations, supporting evidence and information about the non-financial impact of the Hostile Environment policy on victims and their families. Applicants are required to provide extensive documentary evidence, often going back decades.”

Many potential claimants are believed to be reluctant to apply to the WCS due to fear and distrust in the system more generally.

Another feature of the scheme has been that the initial offers of compensation have been low. A right of review is available and the Clinic will support claimants through this process, to ensure adequate compensation is received.

Shaila Pal: “All these problems highlight the ongoing failure of the scheme and the need for specialist legal advice, representation, and monitoring of the WCS."

The Windrush Justice Clinic is a broader collaboration between Southwark Law Centre and North Kensington Law Centre, the University of Westminster Legal Advice Clinic, King’s College London Legal Clinic, and London South Bank University Legal Advice Clinic; and community groups Claudia Jones Organisation, The Windrush Compensation Project and The Jigsaw House Society.

If you believe that you may be entitled to compensation under the Windrush Compensation Scheme, please email enquiries@southwarklawcentre.org.uk.

You can claim for yourself, or for the estate of a relative who is now deceased.