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The Public Interest Litigation Toolkit demystifies the process of engaging in public interest litigation for human rights NGOs.

At PILS, we believe in access to justice.

Part of being able to access justice means knowing what options are available when rights have been infringed, choosing which of those options is likely to lead to the best outcome, and having a reasonable understanding of that legal process. Through this toolkit, we want to help organisations and lawyers do just that.

We hope that the toolkit will help anyone trying to bring about strategic change better understand what public interest litigation is, the actions that can be taken to try and change the law, and how PILS can support its members in taking those actions.

Before we begin…

Who is this toolkit for?

  • People working in non-profit organisations and non-governmental organisations* (“NGO’s”) in Northern Ireland, particularly groups that focus on human rights and equality issues.
  • Solicitors and barristers who can practice in Northern Ireland interested in working alongside NGOs.
  • NGO board members who want to learn more about how to use the law to advance their organisation’s purpose.
  • Campaigners for social change who are curious about how litigation in the public interest can complement their work.
About PIL

How do I use this toolkit?

There are many different ways to navigate the toolkit. You can:

  • Read through the toolkit in its entirety
  • Search by keyword
  • Search by subject or topic
  • Follow the toolkit’s internal links to the information most relevant to your query
View resources

Recently added resources

An Introduction to Public Interest Litigation

Litigation is simply the process of taking legal action before the courts, or another judicial decision-maker. There isn't a single globally agreed upon definition of Public Interest Litigation. Learn about how PILS defines public interest litigation and how to identify a public interest element in an issue that your organisation...
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Animation: The Toolkit is your guide!

Combining legal remedies with visible campaigning or policy work can be a really powerful way of holding decision makers accountable. Check out our animation that captures all the benefits that the Public Interest Litigation Toolkit has to offer Northern Ireland's changemakers!
View resource
PILS Toolkit logo

Alternative Strategies that can Complement Litigation

Litigation is not the solution in all circumstances. This section of the Toolkit invites your organisation to consider whether alternatives to litigation might solve the issue or consider whether any of the alternatives might complement legal action.
View resource

We welcome your feedback

The toolkit has been developed over many months and against a backdrop of changing political, social and economic tides.

The final version of the toolkit is the result of months of in-depth work with focus groups and interested parties, with a view to making it as accessible, practical, and informative as it can be.

If you have suggestions on how we can improve this toolkit, including other topics that you would like to see covered, please complete our feedback form here.

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Appreciation and acknowledgements

Thank you to the many PILS members and practitioners on PILS’ Pro Bono Register who participated in focus groups and reviewed drafts of this toolkit. We are incredibly grateful for the time and insight that you committed to this project.

A special thank you to:

  • Sinead Marmion, Phoenix Law
  • Emma-Rose Duffy, Children’s Law Centre
  • Marissa McMahon, The Participation and the Practice of Rights
  • Aidan McGowan BL, barrister
  • Tina Merron, Integrated Education Fund
  • Claire Donnelly, Integrated Education Fund
  • Brian Moss, Worthington Solicitors
  • Orla Gallagher BL, barrister
  • Ciaran Moynagh, Phoenix Law
  • Dr. Gordon Anthony BL, barrister

Another special thank you to the Matrix Chambers Causes Fund for providing the funding to create this toolkit.

*PILS defines a non-governmental organisation as an organisation with no affiliation with political parties or governments, an interest in and that supports public interest litigation and has experience working to advance human rights and equality in Northern Ireland.