Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

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About the PILS Project


Research identified costs as one of the major barriers to people engaging in public interest litigation.  Lack of funding can make it impossible for people to get a case to court.  Another barrier to public interest litigation can be lack of knowledge about how the law can help solve a problem. 

The PILS Project was established in 2009 in response to this unmet need.  Research concluded that a dedicated strategic litigation project in Northern Ireland would be invaluable.  The PILS Project is a not-for-profit organisation and is funded by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Fund.



  • Encourage adherence to the rule of law, human rights and equality, through the use of public interest litigation in Northern Ireland.
  • Encourage Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and legal professionals to improve communication and co-ordination in relation to public interest litigation.
  • Raise awareness of and tackle barriers to public interest litigation.



  • The PILS Project can support members at all stages of a case to include pre-litigation advice, legal representation during proceedings and post-judgment support to ensure change happens on the ground.  Additional legal expertise is available from the pro bono register to provide legal opinions and representation at courts and tribunals.
  • The PILS Project has a litigation fund which it uses to help members with the costs involved in bringing public interest cases.  The PILS Project can provide an indemnity to pay the other party’s costs if the case is lost. The litigation fund can also cover disbursements and, in exceptional circumstances, professional legal fees. 
  • The PILS Project builds the capacity of its members to use public interest litigation by offering training on a wide range of legal issues.
  • The PILS Project encourages collaborative working between its members on public interest issues by hosting roundtables and events.
  • The PILS Project raises general awareness of public interest litigation by participating in legal education seminars, publishing resources and offering volunteering opportunities. 
  • The PILS Project tackles barriers to public interest litigation by encouraging the use of protective costs orders and lobbying for pro bono costs orders to be introduced in Northern Ireland.