Landmark defeats 11KBW in back-to-work schemes appeal

Landmark Chambers has won a Court of Appeal (CoA) victory for a university graduate who claimed that being required to work for free at a Poundland store breached laws on forced labour.

Nathalie Lieven QC
Nathalie Lieven QC

Silk Nathalie Lieven QC was instructed by Public Interest Lawyers solicitor Tessa Gregory to represent 24-year old geology graduate Caitlin Reilly and 40-year old unemployed HGV driver Jamie Wilson in their claims that the Government’s ‘back-to-work’ employment schemes are unlawful.

The Department for Work and Pension (DWP) directly instructed 11KBW barrister Paul Nicholls QC to defend the appeal.

In their judgment, Lord Justice Pill, Lady Justice Black and Sir Stanley Burnton ruled that the Government did not make clear the penalties jobseekers might face if they did not take part in mandatory work programmes.

“[Reilly‟s] original complaint arose from what she was wrongly told was a compulsory placement on a scheme that (a) impeded her voluntary efforts to maintain and advance her primary career ambition and (b) having embarked upon it, from her perspective, did not offer any worthwhile experience on an alternative career path,” they ruled. “It’s not difficult to sympathise with her position from that point of view.”

However, the judges supported the High Court’s view that requiring people to participate in the scheme did not breach any human rights.

The legal line-up:

For the claimants Caitlin Reilly and Jamie Wilson: Landmark Chambers’ Nathalie Lieven QC and Blackstone Chambers’ Tom Hickman, instructed by solicitor Tessa Gregory of Public Interest Lawyers.

For the defendant the Department for Work and Pensions: 11KBW’s Paul Nicholls QC, instructed directly.