Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC has been appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), in light of her “outstanding commitment to enabling the Human Rights Act’s protections.”  The mission of the RSA is to enrich society through ideas and action.  Caoilfhionn was selected to join the RSA Fellowship due to her work on groundbreaking human rights test cases, acting for individual clients and NGOs, and for the Act for the Act campaign.


Caoilfhionn’s recent human rights cases include acting for disabled children, carers, victims and survivors of domestic violence and lone parents in a series of successful challenges to welfare cuts (the benefit cap and the ‘bedroom tax’); acting for bereaved families in the Hillsborough inquests and related civil proceedings; and acting for women and girls from Northern Ireland where abortion is criminalised in almost all circumstances.  She has particular expertise in children’s rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression and strategic litigation.


The Act for the Act campaign, run entirely by volunteers, was founded by Caoilfhionn, legal journalist Fiona Bawdon and Doughty Street Chambers Associate and Director of Liberty, Martha Spurrier.  They were inspired by seeing the importance of the Human Rights Act in their professional lives, and witnessing firsthand the vital protections it provides to people every day. They felt that, in the political, legal and media debate about the Human Rights Act, the most important voices were missing:  the everyday people and families who in times of great distress and difficulty suddenly needed the Human Rights Act.  This was the inspiration for a crowdfunded nationwide advertising campaign to tell some of these stories: on billboards; in tube stations; on the sides of buses; and on huge iconic advertising towers on the motorways into major cities.


RSA Fellows come from diverse backgrounds and professions.  Current RSA fellows include Judi Dench, Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Tim Berners-Lee.  Notable previous fellows include Marie Curie, Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. The Fellowship is now a global, interdisciplinary network of 28,000 people who support the RSA’s mission and have innovative ideas for achieving social change.


On receiving the fellowship, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC said:


“It is a privilege to be invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. The RSA aims to address our most pressing social challenges through collaborative action and multi-disciplinary thinking. I can’t wait to get stuck in and work with other RSA fellows in creative ways to address threats to our hard-fought human rights protections at home – all the more important and urgent given Brexit plans.

The RSA’s global reach also brings unique opportunities and I plan to work with others to address two international issues of great concern to me: the imprisonment and gagging of journalists, and gender-based violence.”  

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