Applications are now open for the Strategic Legal Fund (SLF) to support legal work that goes beyond securing justice for an individual and makes a significant contribution to law, practice and procedures to uphold and promote the rights of migrant groups in the UK.
The SLF is an initiative delivered by The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) in partnership with Trust for London, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
The SLF aims to tackle injustices and inconsistencies in law and practice that disadvantage or discriminate against asylum seekers, refugees and migrants as a result of their migration status.
Areas of Law
- The SLF funds strategic legal work in any area of law where asylum seekers, refugees and migrants experience disadvantage or discrimination as a result of migration status. This includes (but is not restricted to) potential cases in the areas of:
- Maximum funding for any one application will be £30,000 but, in view of the limited funding available, lower applications are encouraged. The average grant size is around £12,000. You need to demonstrate that your application represents value for money. Grants may be approved for a lesser amount than requested.
- The SLF aims to complement longer-term funding with short-term grants to respond to legal opportunities. The maximum grant length is 12 months, and most grants are for six months or less.
Types of Activity
- The SLF only supports strategic legal work in the UK. They define this as work where the impact is likely to go beyond an individual case, and to result in changes to law, policy and practice that will benefit a wider group of people.
- Applications must be to fund one of two kinds of strategic legal work:
- the research and development of cases pre-litigation including: gathering evidence to test a hypothesis or research to establish authorities’ policy and practice, identifying potential plaintiffs/applicants/appellants; researching whether to proceed; translating relevant material; and evaluating a litigation strategy. The SLF cannot be used to fund the costs of conducting litigation, it is limited to pre-litigation work only. A small proportion of an application may be used for advice, and for representation in the First Tier and Upper Tribunals where no other funding is available and where this is necessary to develop a strategic legal challenge.
- third party “interventions” in existing cases, which allow a non-party intervener to assist the court in arriving in its decision in a case, acting as an amicus curiae, a friend of the court. Funds can be used for evidence-gathering, instructing counsel, preparing the application for permission to intervene. They ask that you have notified the parties that you intend to intervene before submitting a proposal to the SLF.
- Please note that the SLF ONLY funds research that is tied to the possible future taking of legal cases. It does not fund general research, advice provision or campaigning work.
- They recognise that some research and interventions may not lead to the desired legal outcome, but will only fund those where they believe that those undertaking the work have sufficient expertise and experience to maximise the chances of success. In your request for funding, name the counsel and legal team where possible.
- They fund research and interventions that are likely to benefit people who fit the definition above. Some research and interventions may have a wider or even different focus, and they do consider funding these, but only if they are convinced that the outcome will substantially benefit people disadvantaged or discriminated against because of their migration status.
- The SLF supports strategic legal work in the UK which benefits asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. They define this as those:
- Who are living in poverty, and
- Who face significant disadvantage or discrimination in connection with their immigration status.
- Those eligible to apply to the SLF are organisations based in the UK which are:
- Not-for-profit (NFP) organisations that provide specialist level legal advice to people discriminated or disadvantaged by their migration status. If you work for a NFP organisation regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) and are applying to undertake work in the asylum or immigration field, you must confirm that staff leading on the proposed work are accredited at Level 3, Advocacy and Representation, in the relevant category of law.
- Firms of solicitors that provide specialist level legal advice to people discriminated or disadvantaged by their migration status. Solicitors’ firms need to demonstrate that the funded work does not include any element of profit and that there is a pro bono element included.
- All applicants must demonstrate that staff has appropriate skills, experience and expertise to undertake the strategic legal work proposed. All applicants are asked to provide supporting documents with their application, for example annual accounts, governing documents, or other financial information.
- The SLF welcomes applications from specialist legal representatives working in partnership with voluntary and community groups, who may be able to assist with research, gathering evidence and identifying clients. This type of application should be made by the legal representative with the other organisation(s) being sub-contracted to do the work at an appropriate rate.
- Please note that organisations may be in receipt of multiple grants simultaneously. This is because the SLF does not want to deter organisations from applying that would be best suited to carry out the work.
- In general, the SLF will not make grants where:
- Funding is sought for pre-litigation research on an issue where work is already in progress by other legal representatives.
- There is an unreasonably low prospect of a positive outcome for migrant groups.
- The funding will not produce any significant positive change to the rights of vulnerable asylum seekers, refugees or migrants in the UK.
- The applicant is based outside of the UK. Partnership applications where the lead partner is based in the UK may be considered.
- It is judged that the goals of the application may be more successfully achieved through an alternative route e.g. policy work.
- Organisations have already received two grants from the SLF in the last 18 months, except in exceptional circumstances.
- Organisations are in serious financial deficit.
- Not-for-profit organisations have significant unrestricted reserves (including designated funds). Generally, reserves up to the equivalent of six months’ expenditure is acceptable.
For more information, visit SLF.