Friday 7th November marked the last day of the European Pro Bono Forum in London. The Forum, organisied by PILnet (The Global Network for Public Interest Law) attracted delegates from all over the world, including representatives from international law firms and individual practitioners, all of whom are committed to pro bono work.

Friday morning included a panel event, attracting approximately 100 delegates, entitled “The Role of Pro Bono Lawyers in Ensuring the Protection of Refugee Rights”.  No5 Chambers Barrister S. Chelvan, was joined on the panel by Rima Alaily from Microsoft’s offices in Seatle, who works on pro bono work with unaccompanied child asylum seekers; Alison Harvey, Legal Director of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association in the UK and Stephen Jones of Baker and McKenzie, a firm who is regularly instructed by UNHCR in their interventions in strategic case litigation.  The panel was chaired by Michael Diedring, Secretary General of European Council of Refugees, based in Brussels.  Chelvan is currently instructed by Wesley Gryk of Wesley Gryk Solicitors LLP, on behalf of five different international Non-Governmental Organisations,  in two test cases before the European Court of Human Rights, which seek to enlarge protection for LGBTI refugees in all 47 Council of Europe Member States (ME v Sweden and AE v Finland).

The general consensus in the room related to forging links with grass roots organisations, in order to learn what support can be provided both from a litigation standpoint, as well as providing a knowledge and resource bank.  Delegates also voiced clear concerns about the cuts to legal aid, which must be challenged.

Please click here to view S. Chelvan‘s profile.