CIVIL RIGHTS FIRST Promoting & Providing
Access To Justice
Who We Are

We aim to promote social justice with delivery to everyone in society, through a valued, tailored advice and effective advocacy service.

Launched in 2018, Civil Rights First is a charity providing a free impartial and confidential advice service. We are holistic in our approach and person centred. Our aim is to promote social justice by delivering a valued, tailored advice and effective advocacy service. Our service is provided Scotland wide. We can provide an outreach service, rather than request our clients travel many miles to our advisers, our advisers can travel to you. In addition we deliver our specialist advice service digitally on a platform suitable for your needs. We work primarily with communities who experience marginalisation due to ethnicity, age, disability or other protected characteristics.

Civil Rights First improves positive outcomes for vulnerable people ensuring each person has access to free advice and representation. Underpinning our work is equal opportunities for everyone in a just and fair society. We believe in the principles of equality and diversity supporting people at the centre of the decision making process. Our Board of Trustees provide due diligence and governance guaranteeing compliance with policy and procedure under the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

Our specialist advisers are legally trained, with a number of years’ experience working in law clinics, Third sector and Scottish Legal Aid Board projects within Citizens Advice Bureau. We provide a gold standard advice service.

Authorised Lay Representation is provided, in Simple Procedure, Summary Cause, Ordinary Cause and Summary Application.

Click here to view & download our Brochure in pdf format.

Civil Rights First are a Network Member of AdviceUK. Click here to view & download our certificate in pdf format.

If you have an issue, need initial advice, contact us for free advice, support and assistance. Our free advice sessions are designed to provide you with the information needed to help resolve your issue. We deal with the following issues:

Our Expertise

Disability Rights

Equality and Human Rights including SDS

Housing Issues (defending eviction/repossessions; factors and management company fees and charges)

Money Advice (Debt, voluntary repayment plans, write-off, the Debt Arrangement Scheme, Sequestration)

Miscellaneous (other issues not listed)

Court Representation (summons)

Debt (tenancy/mortgage arrears, council tax arrears, credit arrears, bank charges, etc)

Consumer Protection (defective goods and services)


How We Operate

Civil Rights First assists individuals providing free advice and information on legal rights, including under self directed support, human rights, equalities and other rights. If you are having difficulties with a complaint process or other issues we can assist; if a resolution cannot be reached we have a robust referral system in place.

Civil Rights First accepts self referrals, from individuals who require assistance, from Third Sector organisations and other organisations which support individuals.

We provide an outreach service, rather than request our clients travel many miles to our advisers, our adviser will travel to you. To make an appointment please contact our office, an adviser will return your telephone call [if we are unavailable], and provide you with an appointment.


At our first meeting we will explain our terms and conditions and obtain the necessary legal authority. Once you are officially our client we will progress your case in the normal manner by contacting the individual/firm/office who you are in dispute with and attempt negotiation to resolve the matter. At regular intervals we will update you, our client, of progress and take your continued instruction. If attempts at negotiation are unsuccessful, and you wish to progress to the court process, our advisers can explain the process and advise on this and other remedies available.

We work in partnership with multiple organisations to assist vulnerable groups.

We can help you:

| understand your rights in the areas of our expertise

| explain complex legal issues to help you understand

| negotiate and represent your rights with effective advocacy

Case Studies

This is a selection of case studies illustrating different aspects of our work

Client a legal Guardian for a person with protected characteristics, contacted CRF at the final stage where a complaint was raised against the Local Authority to Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, this was not upheld. Client is legal Guardian for a person with protected characteristics, in addition was providing a high level of unpaid care to sustain the right to reside at home. CRF gathered all necessary information, advise, and consulted with the family together with all relevant professionals involved. CRF consulted with a person-centred planning approach founded on Human Rights under the Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013. Client was able to participate fully in the process and to be an active part of the decision-making process with significant contribution which supported influenced the overall outcome. Client required high level of support to reside in their own home. CRF after sensitive, careful, and detailed negotiations with the relevant team at the Local Authority was able to evidence the supported person requirement for 24/7 support. Moreover, while in fact this person met the criteria for this level of support in line with statutory duties set out in legislation. CRF negotiated successfully with all parties and provided an increased remedy with a positive outcome for the supported person with protected characteristics. The vulnerable person can have an active role in public life within the community.

Child B, with complex health needs requiring significant health and social care support under the Children Scotland Act 1995 section 23. Attends local primary school and has a Co-ordinated Support Plan. Parents would like an Option 1 under the SDS legislation with PA support for child to enable attending social activities outside of school and 4 nights per week nursing care. They were informed a Direct Payment cannot be used for Education Services or Healthcare Services. Specialist Legal Adviser wrote to the LA setting out the legal context and outlining the level of support Child B required within own home. Highlighting it was necessary to have a joint approach to support planning by Health and Social Care Staff. The Submission, Direct Payment maybe considered if community based (non-acute) healthcare services are included in a jointly planned and arranged package of care and support. Their further submission that relevant social care and healthcare legislation allows that, where the person receives both health and social care, NHS professionals can arrange for transfer of funding from the NHS Board to the Local Authority in order to fund the relevant health outcomes within the person’s joint plan. This funding can then be directed by the person or parent under the four options laid out on the 2013 Act including SDS Option 1.

Client was previously sequestrated resulting from debts accumulated from a difficult and acrimonious marriage. The Trustee raised an action under Summary Application to realise the asset in the property ie family home. Client a single mother in full time employment with four dependent children, unfortunately did not qualify for legal aid.

The action was defended in a Proof before Answer.  The court decided in favour of Client setting aside the sale of the property period of 3 years, to allow the children to progress through the critical period in their education.

Client consulted regarding threatened bankruptcy. Application for Moratorium was sought from the Accountant in Bankruptcy. Thereafter Client was served with Petition for Sequestration. Action was defended. Client received a full financial health check to maximise income. Application to the Debt Arrangement Scheme was successful resulting in all creditors receiving a fair repayment from Client. Client remained in their home. Action was subsequently dismissed.

This client with complex and multiple needs including addiction and mental health required access to self-directed support from the Local Authority Health and Social Care Partnership from 2015. Despite the client meeting the eligibility criteria for critical and substantial need, every attempt over a six-year period was unsuccessful. Case was referred Civil Rights First early 2021.

We were able to work with the client, appointed advocate and support team to negotiate with the HSCP on the client’s behalf securing a suitable package of Self-Directed Support care under the desired option of choice. Previously after six assessments and two formal complaints no agreed remedy had been available to the client.

Civil Rights First was able to negotiate and secure a support package of care with a successful outcome for this client. 

Get In Touch:

By Post: Strathleven House, Strathleven Road,
Dumbarton, G82 3PD

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    Civil Rights First is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland, registration number SC594829

    Civil Rights First is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, registration number SCO48403 Financial Conduct Authority Registration Number: 801521.