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Hundreds of British government lawyers are bracing themselves for an expected flood of claims under the Human Rights Act (HRA) when it becomes law. The Government Legal Service (GLA), which employs more than 1,000 lawyers, has created special human rights units to deal with the anticipated rise in their case load. It is also thought the GLS has gained an unprecedented increase in Treasury funding to recruit more lawyers to deal with the anticipated rise in government related litigation. A former GLS lawyer says: “Heads of legal divisions are taking the act seriously.” Legal teams and advisers to local authorities have carried out their fair share of preparation. Hackney Council lawyers have undergone extensive training and aided all council staff in developing a greater understanding of the act. A spokeswoman for the council says: “There has been a groundswell of awareness which the council is preparing for. We are undertaking extremely detailed training work with staff.” Alison Sutherland, the Legal Adviser to the Local Government Association, says: “Obviously, the picture is variable, given that there are over 400 local authorities, but they have been preparing over the last three months. The LGA has been running training courses which have been extremely well attended.” The act has been high on the agenda of not only local government lawyers, but also councilors, policy advisers and other local government officials.” The case of Rachel Warden is an example of the sorts of claims that councils and government departments will be facing. Her parents, the Rev. Richard and Penny Warden plan to use the HRA to challenge the refusal of Buckinghamshire’s education authority to allow their daughter to take up a place at the school of their choice. They claim that the exam paper put her at a disadvantage because she suffered from a sight defect, and the layout of the paper made it difficult for her to scan from the questions to the answer boxes. Parents of six left-handed pupils at another school in Buckinghamshire also claim that the layout of the paper favored right-handed pupils because of the way the questions and answer boxes were set out.

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