Help with human rights in Scotland
The Commission has a general duty to promote and protect the human rights of everyone in Scotland, for example, by encouraging best practice in relation to human rights and by promoting awareness, understanding and respect for human rights. The Act of the Scottish Parliament that established the Commission further sets out the Commission’s powers.
These powers include:
The power to recommend changes to any area of the law of Scotland or any policies or practices of Scottish public authorities.
The power to conduct inquiries.
The power to enter some places of detention including inspection and interview.
The power to intervene in some civil legal proceedings.
These powers do not include:
The power to provide legal assistance, advice or guidance ("in respect of any person in connection with any claim or legal proceedings to which that person is or may become a party", Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006, s6(1)).
Therefore we cannot give individuals legal advice or assistance. The list below should signpost you to organisations who may be able to help you.
The following additional contacts are suggested as potential signposts to those agencies and bodies that can provide legal advice. The Commission cannot be responsible for the quality of information provided by other organisations.
From 1 October 2012 the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) helpline has replaced the helpline previously operated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. To contact the new service visit www.equalityadvisoryservice.com - or call:
0808 800 0082
Text users can dial 0800 800 0084
Skype video BSL calls via the Royal Association for the Deaf.
The new service aims to support individuals referred from local organisations, advisory groups, faith based organisations and other groups working within the community that support people experiencing discrimination. The EASS will provide advice and information on discrimination and human rights issues, specifically:
Explain what the law says and how this applies to individuals in Scotland.
Explain how a situation could be resolved by you.
For discrimination issues the service will also be able to:
Support you in attempting to resolve your issue informally.
If you can't resolve your issue informally then refer you to a conciliation or mediation service.
If you need or want to seek a legal solution, help you work out if you if you are eligible for civil legal aid.
If you are not eligible for civil legal aid then help you find an accessible legal service, or assist you to represent yourself by giving you information and support on how to prepare and lodge a claim.
The EASS can not:
Provide legal advice.
Provide information, advice and support on anything other than discrimination and human rights.
Represent you when providing pre-claim support.
Advise on the strength of your case.
Advise on what evidence is needed to prove your case.
Advise on court / sheriff court / tribunal proceedings once a claim has been issued.
Finding a lawyer
The Law Society of Scotland can help you find a lawyer by area of practice and by locality.
Address: Law Society of Scotland, 26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7YR
Telephone: 0131 226 7411
Obtaining legal advice can be costly and take time. The Scottish Legal Aid Board may be able to offer assistance in limited circumstances.
Address: The Scottish Legal Aid Board, 44 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, EH3 7SW
Telephone: 0131 226 7061
Community law centres
Depending upon where you live, you may be able to contact a local community law centre for advice. Typically community law centers are charities that deal with social welfare, housing and discrimination issues. There is a list of community law centres across Scotland (Word format) which you can consult.
Child Law Centre
The Scottish Child Law Centre provides free legal advice for, and about, children. The Centre also offers a wide range of training on the law and children's rights to groups and individuals across Scotland, and provides a range of leaflets and publications on various legal issues
Telephone: 0131 667 6333 (advice line)
Ethnic Minority Law Centre
The Ethnic Minority Law Centre provides free, independent legal advice and representation on human rights issues in relation to immigration and asylum matters, for example, applications for leave to remain in the UK under the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Address: 41 St Vincent Place, Glasgow, G1 2ER
Telephone: 0141 204 2888
And in Edinburgh: 103-105 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8BX.
Tel: 0131 229 2038
The Citizens Advice Bureau can also give advice on issues such as money, family break up, employment, benefits and tax. Several of the bureaux are in the list of community law centres (open this list in word format). You can also call their national helpline, Citizen’s Advice Direct, on 0844 848 9600 for free, confidential advice on any matter and consult their website.
Help in other areas
Some other charities, public bodies and agencies provide who can provide advice.
Care Information Scotland
Care Information Scotland is a telephone and website service providing information about care services for older people living in Scotland.
Telephone: 08456 001 001
Email: Online contact form
Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People (SCCYP)
SCCYP promotes and safeguards the rights of children and young people in Scotland.
Telephone: 0131 558 3733
Contact a Family Scotland
Contact a Family has information, support and advice for the families of disabled children. Advisers can help with benefits or tax credits issues, assessments and statements of special educational needs, details of local parents support groups, information about your child's condition, how to access help with getting a break from caring, details of charities which give grants to families with disabled children and basic advice about immigration matters.
Telephone: 0808 808 355 (free advice line)
Mental Welfare Commission
The Mental Welfare Commission is an independent organization working to safeguard the rights and welfare of anyone with a mental illness, learning disability or other mental disorder.
Address: Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5HE
Telephone: 0800 389 6809
Scottish Helpline for Older People
The helpline has a trained team of staff and volunteers who specialise in answering enquiries from or about older people. Telephone lines are open from 10am - 4pm, Monday to Friday and until 7pm on Tuesdays.
Telephone 0845 125 9732
Scottish Association for Mental Health
The Scottish Association for Mental Health is Scotland’s leading mental health charity. It provides help, information and support and campaigns on behalf of people with mental health problems.
Telephone: 0800 917 3466
The Care Inspectorate
The Care Inspectorate works to improve the quality of care in Scotland and ensures that care service providers meet the Scottish Government’s standards of care as set out in the National Care Standards.
Telephone: 0845 600 9527
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
The Alliance promotes, supports and defends the principles and practice of independent advocacy across Scotland.
Address: Melrose House, 69a George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2JG
Telephone: 0131 260 5380
Scottish Refugee Council
The Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice, information and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland
Address: 5 Cadogan Square, (170 Blythswood Court), Glasgow, G2 7PH.
Freephone 0800 085 6087 to make an appointment or get asylum advice.
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
The Ombudsman is the final stage for handling complaints about public bodies in Scotland. It runs a free, independent and impartial service for dealing with complaints about councils, the National Health Service, housing associations, the Scottish Government and its agencies and departments, colleges and universities and most Scottish public bodies.
Address: 4 Melville Street, Edinburgh, EH3 7NS
Telephone: 0800 377 7330
Scottish Social Services Council
The Scottish Social Services Council is responsible for raising standards in the Scottish social service workforce. It registers and regulates the social service workforce to meet agreed standards of conduct, practice, education and training.
Address: Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee, DD1 4NY
Telephone: 0845 60 30 891
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner for Scotland
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner for Scotland considers and reviews the way police authorities, police forces and policing agencies handle complaints from the public.
Telephone: 0808 178 5577
The Scottish Information Commissioner
The Scottish Information Commissioner can help with information requests to Scottish Public Authorities.
Address: Scottish Information Commissioner, Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DS
Tel: 01334 464610 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Scotland Office of the Information Commissioner’s Office
This office can help with your rights in relation information that is held about you by reserved (UK) public authorities.