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Freedom of Speech & Assembly

The right to protest against unjust, illegitimate or illegal activities is a fundamental part of democracy.

Hodge Jones & Allen is one of the leading law firms in the UK specialising in representing the right to protest (Chambers 2016). Our passionate and committed team of solicitors – which works closely with our renowned Public Order/Criminal law team – have extensive experience in bringing and winning difficult, controversial and high profile cases, and we are dedicated to defending the right to protest against injustice.

The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly said:

“Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and one of the basic conditions for its progress and for each individual’s self-fulfilment”

This right to free speech is enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is brought into English law by the Human Rights Act 1998. The right to freedom of assembly (or freedom of association) is contained in Article 11 ECHR.

Over the past decade, we have used human rights law to defend the rights of protestors in high-profile cases including the G20 protests, UKUncut protests, Critical Mass events, anti-fascist marches, traveller site evictions (Dale Farm) arms fairs and TUC events.

We have also obtained compensation for protestors who have been injured or otherwise mistreated during protests, and have successfully acted for clients in disciplinary actions against the police, securing apologies and changes to police practice.

All our expert lawyers are active members of the Police Action Lawyers Group, which represents solicitors specialising in complaints against the police.

Client cases

  • Our client was carrying a T-shirt with the question “Are the Royal Family better than yours?” whilst walking through Soho on the day of a royal celebration. He was stopped and searched without proper explanation, before being handcuffed and arrested for breach of the peace. He was then detained in a police cell and was eventually released without charge. After we represented him in a civil claim, the Metropolitan Police agreed to settle his case, apologised to him and supported his application for the deletion of his data from the police national computer.
  • Under an Article 3 claim for degrading treatment, we secured compensation for a group of protestors arrested at the Dale Farm traveller site. The protestors were left handcuffed in a prison van for five hours without access to toilet facilities and were forced to urinate in the van in view of others.

Your next steps

To find out if we can help you, please contact us on our free telephone number 0800 437 0080, or contact us via our website. All communications will be treated in confidence, even where you do not become our client. If we can take on your case, we will give you full details about costs, including advising you on the availability of legal aid and Conditional Fee or “no win, no fee” agreements.

If you might want us to investigate a claim for you, it is important that you do not delay and you contact us as soon as possible. The law requires that cases are started at court within specific timescales.

Most civil claims for compensation (for a breach of human rights) must be issued at court within one year, but to make sure evidence is collected and the case is properly prepared, the sooner you contact us, the better. If you think you might be out of time, don’t let this stop you from calling us – we will advise you if this is a problem, and if we can take your case on, we will fight to get your claim heard even if the breach took place a long time ago.

Our freedom of speech & assembly specialists are part of our London based human rights team. We have almost four decades of experience helping clients from around the UK with a wide variety of legal matters. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0808 250 6017 today.