International Women's Day: Homelessness and fleeing domestic violence - Is law and policy keeping pace?

Thursday 11 March 2021

Marina Sergides

Cris McCurley

Sue James

Pragna Patel

#ChooseToChallenge  #IWD2021

Date: Thursday 11 March 2021
Time: 5pm-6.30pm
Venue: Online  
Areas of Law: Housing Law , Domestic Abuse , Community Care Law

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Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women. 

Our panel of front line workers and leading housing lawyers consider the adequacy of current law and policy to support victims fleeing violence.

They will examine what more needs to be done to protect victims who find themselves homeless, with a particular focus on the new Domestic Abuse Bill. 



Justine Compton, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Justine has specialised in housing law (as a solicitor and barrister) for over 20 years. She specialises in complex homelessness cases and possession claims involving vulnerable tenants. She also has particular experience in anti-social behaviour matters and succession cases. She is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor. Justine has been appointed as a Deputy District Judge on the South Eastern Circuit and she also sits as a First-tier Tribunal Judge in the Social Entitlement Chamber. 

Her publications include ‘A devastating blow to social housing in England’ (Compton and Davies, LAG July 2016) and ‘The Equality Act 2010 and transgender tenants’ (Compton, Mullins and Sanchez, LAG December 2017).  She was co-author of the chapter on homelessness in the Housing Law Handbook: A Practical Guide (Law Society, 2nd edition). She was the script adviser on two short films produced by Centrepoint/Fully Focused Productions, which premiered at BAFTA in 2017.

Marina Sergides, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Marina specialises in all aspects of social housing law. She has extensive experience in nuisance possession proceedings, s204 homelessness appeals, unlawful eviction and harassment claims, disrepair claims, judicial reviews, human rights, public law defences, disability discrimination and crossover ASBO proceedings in the magistrates and county courts. In particular, Marina works in cases involving tenants with mental health problems, where capacity has been in issue, and where the Official Solicitor has been instructed. Marina has represented tenants before the Social Security Tribunal and before the Social Security Commissioner.

Marina sits on Islington Law Centre's Management Committee and is the co-chair of the Housing Law Practitioners' Association. Marina chairs the HLPA Grenfell sub-group and has been a visiting lecturer in housing law at South Bank University.  Marina contributed to the Housing Law Handbook (2009) on damages for disrepair and has written for Legal Action. She wrote for Landlord & Tenant Review on Article 8 in 2014 and will be contributing to an update.

Cris McCurley, Partner, Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors
Cris is an award winning family lawyer who has over 30 years of experience in the job and specialises in cases involving all forms of abuse and represents, mostly, BME / migrant women and children. She is a partner and head of the International Family Law Team at Ben Hoare Bell LLP.

She is a member of the children panel, the ICACU panel, the Law Society Access to justice committee, Resolution DA committee and International Family Law Committee, and is the Resolution lead on cultural practices and the law. She is a member of the Victim Commissioner Advisory Group.

She is a UN CEDAW shadow report writer who has given evidence to the UN at the last two examinations of the UK Government's adherence, with particular reference to domestic abuse and legal aid. She is a member of the working party with the MOJ to improve legal aid and access to justice for victims of abuse. In the past year she has given evidence to the MOJ Harm Committee and the APPG on Legal Aid on the sustainability of family legal aid. She regularly contributes articles to legal journals.

Sue James, Director, Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre 
Sue James is Director and solicitor at Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre and a specialist in housing law. Sue has worked in a number of law centres and private practice where she has specialised in advising vulnerable clients in possession proceedings. She continues to be an advocate on duty possession days at the county court.

In 2017 Sue won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALYs) Outstanding Achievement Award. She is a founding trustee at Ealing Law Centre which opened in 2013 and is joint Vice-Chair of Law Centre Network.

Sue also writes a regular column for Legal Action Magazine and writes articles for other journals. Sue will be leaving Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre and taking over as Chief Executive of Legal Action Group in March 2021.

Pragna Patel, Founding Member and Director, Southall Black Sisters
Pragna Patel is a founding member and director of Southall Black Sisters (SBS) - an advocacy and campaigning centre. Established in 1979 to meet the needs of black and minority women, the bulk of SBS’ work is directed at assisting women and children obtain effective protection and assert their fundamental human right in the face of gender-based violence and related problems. Over the years, Pragna has been centrally involved in some of SBS’ most important cases and campaigns on domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. More recently, SBS has been campaigning for the need to enshrine protection for migrant women in the Domestic Abuse Bill that is currently in the House of Lords. Pragna has also written extensively on race, gender and religion and on the need to address multiple and overlapping forms of discrimination that create injustice and inequality. 

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