Environmental Law Centre
Erosion of Human Rights in the UK
and State Monopoly of Legal Services
We, the Environmental Law Centre (ELC), are a charity, set up in 1998 to provide specialist assistance free of any charge to groups, individuals and families in the areas of health, environment and human rights within the EU. We are not funded by any organisation and rely entirely on donations. All our staff are unpaid professional volunteers. We deal with approximately 10,000 telephone enquiries per year. One of the aims of the ELC is to empower the people who need help the most. Helpline runs from 9am to 4pm.
Law Centres Federation (LCF) has in the past attempted to close down the
ELC but was unsuccessful in its attempt as we fought the case. We believe
that these present circumstances are directly resulting from the nature
of the work that ELC undertakes by using the law to protect and fight
for people’s Human Rights. Of importance to note is the EU petition
(that we have asked everyone to sign) which clearly has caused consternation
by its existence, since the next move has been this attempt to stop the
Environmental Law Centre from operating (http://www.elc.org.uk/pages/eu_petition.htm).
For all those who are interested the application has been consistently
refused from 1996 till 2002 when after a telephone conversation (no written
record available to date despite request) - all the objections were mysteriously
LCF goes even further this time by demanding that not only do we not use the expression ’law centre’ in our name but that we are not to give or provide any form of legal assistance / advice to anyone (Clauses:- 16, 41, 42 and 43 – further details : http://webdb4.patent.gov.uk/tm/number and type in 2109154). Apparently we are not allowed to organise or hold any further conferences, seminars or workshops that enable access to any form of legal knowledge or understanding. In doing so we are in danger of ‘Passing off’ which is an offence. This action is a direct violation of Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocol No. 11, Articles 10, 17 and Article 6 - the right to a fair trial which is:-
“to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require”
Although the LCF sits on some of the Committees of the Lord Chancellor’s Department, the Home Office and the Law Commission they are in fact, as admitted by them in a submission to the Court of Appeal, a private club and therefore not accountable to any statutory body. The granting of the trademark virtually means that the LCF has a total monopoly over the supply of legal services.
One cannot help but conclude that the Law Centres Federation, which is supported and funded by the Taxpayer, is using its power like a school bully to shut down anyone it does not like. This is a further erosion of Human Rights in the UK coming after the summary in a judgment (PARAGON FINANCE PLC – v - R H NOUEIRI, EWCA Civ 1402, 19th September 2001) which states that assistance can only be given to a Litigant in Person by a member of the legal profession (i.e. a member of a professional bodies Law Society or Bar Council) and further the right of the Litigant in Person to have someone to assist is now only possible with the permission of the Court. A right to repeated appeal is under discussion and will be limited in the future with a judge’s permission.
We seek your moral, financial and practical support to assist in our fight by sending us your letters of support of the importance of the ELC. Also write to the UK Patent Office informing them that the words “Law Centre” are generic and descriptive and cannot be allowed to be registered as a trade mark; especially for the purpose of targeting and controlling those who are only doing good for the public. Any comment and feed back and practical assistance in the matter is greatly appreciated. Finally a poem by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945 (Time magazine, Aug 28, 1989),
they came for the Communists,
Please do not discard this appeal ‘as something that does not concern you’ as we all need to unite to fight such abuses. We need email letters of support from all over the world and as many as is possible and also write to your MPs (if applicable), and those detailed below quoting the following reference number 2109154. If you have a law centre in your area, also write to the council.