Ordinary Committee Member
The Public Interest Law Alliance (pila) was established by FLAC in 2009, inspired by a Public Interest Law conference. Like FLAC, it is comprised of individuals seeking to address and raise awareness of public interest law issues. PILA pursues this dual aim in a number of ways:
Hosting seminars and conferences on public law issues.
Publishing a fortnightly PILA bulletin which reports on topical public interest law issues.
Operating a pro-bono referral scheme.
PILA identifies the need for legal advice in NGOs and community law centres and matches these with professionals in accordance with their area of legal expertise. Many large-scale corporate law firms are eager to take on unpaid pro-bono work as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.
Promoting clinical legal education programmes in law schools.
These programmes afford law students the opportunity to learn practical lawyering skills that cannot be taught in an academic setting. 2013 is the first year of the TCD Clinical Legal Education programme. One SF law student has worked directly with PILA during her placement this semester and made regular contributions to the PILA bulletin.
PILA also seeks to tackle some of the current barriers to public interest litigation, namely:
Costs: Litigants risk being ordered to pay both their own and the opposition’s legal costs if they are unsuccessful.
Standing rules: Under these rules, a court may determine that a litigant does not have a right to bring proceedings in a particular case.
Mootness: Where an individual’s claim is resolved then the larger legal issue on which the claim was based cannot be challenged for the benefit of future litigants.
Lack of class actions: Class actions are only permitted in very limited circumstances in Ireland.
The non-justiciability of socio-economic rights: It is widely believed that the legislature, rather than the courts, should address socio-economic rights.
Further information about public interest law and PILA’s work may be found at www.pila.ie.