Current projects

Current projects being researched by Ulster University Law Clinic.

Take a look below to see what research we are currently working on.

Project: Participatory research into the introduction of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland

Contact: Dr Mark SimpsonProfessor Gráinne McKeever, Professor Ann Marie Gray

Funder: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

This research is being conducted by Ulster University and University of York, in partnership with Universal Credit claimants in Northern Ireland and stakeholders including Law Centre NI.

This participatory research project will gather experiences of Universal Credit (UC) from claimants in Northern Ireland through the establishment of an ‘experts by experience’ panel, and will support claimants to share their expertise with policymakers and other stakeholders. The participatory approach taken will see claimants involved in every stage of the project, with scope for them to play an active role throughout. The fieldwork will be based around four participatory research workshops involving UC claimants from north and west Belfast.

The research aims to develop claimant-led policy recommendations for UC in NI, and to generate lessons about the distinctive operation of UC in NI that can be shared with policymakers in the rest of the UK.

The interim report on the research is available here.


Project: Destitution & Paths to Justice

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever, Dr Mark Simpson

Funder: Joseph Rowntree Foundation & Legal Education Foundation

This report was commissioned by the Legal Education Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to explore the links between access to legal advice and representation (or lack thereof) and pathways into and out of destitution.

The report builds on two reports by Fitzpatrick et al (2016; 2018) that examine the scale, causes and experience of destitution in the UK. Published alongside Fitzpatrick’s update to the original findings on destitution in the UK, its primary task is to explore legal dimensions to destitution.

This includes developing a legally grounded definition of destitution, examining the role of legal or justiciable problems in the research participants’ pathways to destitution and the role (or potential role) of legal interventions in finding a path out of destitution as well as the barriers to a legal solution.

The report highlights the critical overlap between reductions in social support that trigger destitution and the inability of those individuals most badly affected to resolve the justiciable issues that arise from these same triggers.

Visit the project website


Project: Litigants in Person in Northern Ireland

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever, Dr John McCord, Dr Lucy Royal-Dawson and Dr Eleanor Kirk

Funder: The Nuffield Foundation, (£216,169)

Visit the project website


Project: Analysis System for Gathered Raw Data

Contact: Dr Esther McGuinness and Professor Ruth Fee

Funder: Horizon 2020, €575,000

Project summary:
The rapid increase in the volume of forensic data in digital form, available either from private or public sources, makes it increasingly difficult for Law Enforcement Agencies across Europe to search and process important information. The lack of appropriate tools to collect, process and analyse huge volumes of heterogeneous data has led to a considerable amount of untapped information, including cyber crime, being under analysed.

The ASGARD project aims to create a community of EU wide Police Services and technology players, who will work together to develop innovative forensic analysis tools to ensure that high-volume data exchange is effectively policed.

Professor Ruth Fee and Dr Esther McGuinness, sit on the Societal, Ethical and Legal Panel of the ASGARD project.


Project: Social security systems based on dignity and respect

Contact: Dr Mark Simpson, Professor Gráinne McKeever, Professor Ann Marie Gray

Funder: EHRC, £10,000

Project summary: To provide the Equality and Human Rights Commission with insight into how dignity and respect can be embedded into Scotland’s devolved social security system.

The project examines evidence on aspects of social security systems elsewhere that offer examples of best practice and could be said to be founded on the principles of dignity and respect. It will provide evidence on how these mechanisms have been devised, implemented and measured elsewhere, and how these could potentially be applied to Scotland’s new social security system.


Project: A European Unemployment Benefit System: UK feasibility study

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever, Dr Mark Simpson

Funder: Eftheia, €5,400

Project summary: To develop a UK case study for an international project on European Unemployment Benefit Systems, as part of a European consortium on European Commission (DG EMPL) funding.

The project examines the legal and political barriers to creating a European wide unemployment benefit.

Visit the project website: https://www.eftheia.eu


Project: Modelling participation for court litigants

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever

Funder: British Academy

Project summary: This research looks at the different ways people participate in court hearings and the barriers they face in participating. It compares how people participate in court hearings with how people participate in tribunal hearings, to see if the barriers to participation are different/similar for these two different types of legal hearing.

The research finds that people face similar intellectual, practical and emotional barriers in court as they do in tribunal hearings.

Project: Access to Justice through University Law Clinics

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever, Dr Orla Drummond, Dr Esther McGuinness, Dr Eugene McNamee, Mr Ciaran White

Funder: The Legal Education Foundation

Download the report

Download the policy briefing

Download the presentation

Download the video


Project: Initial decision-making, internal review and administrative justice

Contact: Professor Gráinne McKeever

Funder: The UK Administrative Justice Institute

Download the seminar presentation


Project: The social citizenship of lone parents, 2010-2015: evolution and devolution

Contact: Dr Mark Simpson

Funder: Department of Employment and Learning

Download the report


Project: The access to justice barriers for tribunal users: a comparative case study on Special Educational Needs Tribunals

Contact: Dr Orla Drummond

Funder: Department of Employment and Learning, and the Modern Law Review

Download the policy briefing

Download the presentation

Download the video