What we do
FLAC is an independent human rights organisation dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all. To this end it campaigns on a range of legal issues but also offers some basic, free legal services to the public.
FLAC currently concentrates its work on four main areas: Legal Aid, Social Welfare, Credit & Debt and Public Interest Law. More information on our current work in all these areas is also available in the current campaigns section and in the policy section. You can view a short film by Atlantic Philanthropies, which funds FLAC, about our work and principles.
- Legal aid: Civil legal aid is different from criminal legal aid, which is available to all those who meet certain criteria. In Ireland, state civil legal aid is provided through the Legal Aid Board.(Download FLAC's Civil Legal Aid Fact Sheet for information on the application process). However, state funding of legal aid in civil matters continues to fall very short of actual need and FLAC is working to highlight the fact that people need legal assistance in order to access justice. FLAC has produced reports which highlight the right to civil legal aid and the inadequacies in the current system. In our 2005 report, Access to Justice - A Right or A Privilege?, we also incorporated a blueprint for action. A follow-up report in April 2009 describes the continued gaps in Ireland's provision for legal aid as well as statistics on legal need. FLAC's data collection programme also consistently reinforces these findings.
- Social welfare law: As a result, inequities arise in the law and practice and those who are disadvantaged face an uphill battle to address these injustices. FLAC has a history of tackling such inequalities in social welfare law and continues to focus on this very important area.
- Credit & debt law: In response to the growing need for legal information and advice on credit and debt issues, FLAC has become increasingly involved in this area of law. Acting as a legal resource, FLAC supports money advisors and members of the public and aims to provide useful information on rights and entitlements through research and publications such as An End Based on Means?, an in-depth report on attachment of earnings for non-payment of civil debt. FLAC has also appealed for the state to end imprisonment arising from civil debt. The organisation has long called for for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) to be put on a statutory footing and for proper monitoring and regulation of consumer credit and other financial services in Ireland.
FLAC also seeks to keep the public informed of their legal rights in this area. Thus the organisation provides technical legal support in the area of credit and debt law to advisors from MABS and the Citizens Information Board as well as producing publications on issues such as Moneylending and the Law.
- Public Interest Law is not a field of law in the normal sense of the term (i.e. such as, for example, family or company law). Rather it is a way of working with the law for the benefit of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Public interest law may also apply to working for broader issues, such as, for example, environmental concerns. However given FLAC's anti-poverty focus, the definition refers to vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Irish society. There is no single universally accepted definition of PIL, the meaning of the term is influenced by the legal and political culture of the society in which it operates. For more information on PIL, please see our dedicated project, the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA).
Keep in touch with FLAC on Facebook too!