Crowdfunding for justice: ‘a chance to fill the gap’

Five PoundsAn innovative crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation was launched today in response to the legal aid cuts. The first case for CrowdJustice – which will work like Kickstarter with ‘an all-or-nothing funding model’ – involves serious human rights allegations against BP.

‘Justice is a fundamental right and lack of access to funds simply can’t be a good enough reason for not being able to access the courts,’ comments CrowdJustice founder Julia Salasky. ‘Legal aid cuts and lack of access to justice is a problem that affects the most vulnerable very acutely – it’s hard not to feel gloomy about it. But all sorts of people can be affected by a legal issue – not just the person bringing the case – and it’s in those situations where crowdfunding might provide a ray of hope.’

Salasky began her career as a litigator at Linklaters before going on to work as a lawyer at the UN as a prosecutor in relation to war crimes followed by a post at the UN’s international trade law division. Following a stint at an environmental NGO, she launched CrowdJustice. You can find out more here.

CrowdJustice’s first case involves Colombian trade unionist Gilberto Torres who is – Salasky says –  ‘a vulnerable person who is making a claim against UK fuel companies for atrocious human rights violations’. ‘It’s an unusual and complex case, but I think it affects any of us who believe in the right – or perhaps even the obligation – of human beings to hold truth to power,’ she says.

‘There is a desperate need for access to justice in cases of extreme human right violations like Gilberto’s,’ comments his lawyer Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn. ‘Crowd-funding is a chance to fill the gap. It is shocking that his claim could be silenced due to lack of funds. I am confident that enough people believe the corporations and governments should be held to account.’

Willman called CrowdJustice ‘a chance for justice to be done – not just in Gilberto’s case but in other cases where money not justice is the determining factor’.

You watch a film about Gilberto Torres who claims oil firms BP and Ocensa funded paramilitaries who abducted and planned to murder him on the Guardian website here


About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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  1. Pingback: Legal crowdfunders hit £200,000 milestone | Legalvoice

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