Many regular citizens often feel overlooked in the face of powerful corporations. How can they fight multi-million companies and intransparent institutions who treat them with a lack of care?  Fortunately, there are professionals working hard to make the ordinary civilian feel heard and understood. These are the unsung heroes who have devoted their lives to practicing human rights law and delivering retributive justice.

Issues with publicly-funded institutions like the NHS, such as negligence and endless waiting-times, have left people feeling helpless. In particular, many women have faced complications with maternal and childbirth services, some of which even resulted in neonatal death. Various independent investigations into the 'provision and quality of maternity care' were carried out in hospitals such as Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (2004-2013) and the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (2000-2019). Both reports found major failings of service in maternal care across the NHS Trusts. Other investigations in East Kent hospitals (prompted by the deaths of several babies over a number of years) found a clear pattern of "suboptimal" clinical care which led to significant harm. Mothers were left traumatised by the lack of support and some even searching for who to blame for their newborn's death. "By representing victims of negligence or their families, I work to try and improve healthcare services," said Suzanne White, a human rights lawyer.

Law firms specialising in patients' rights and corporate negligence provide crucial support to people by defending and advocating for victims, many of whom are not fully aware of their own rights. "A lot of the time people who are poorly educated do not have as much access to justice as wealthy people," White said.  "We usually deal with the underdogs against powerful corporations." Her firm, Leigh Day, also represented the family of a young girl who tragically died of an allergic shock on her flight after consuming a sandwich that contained sesame without it being listed in 2016. The inquest exposed shortcomings by companies Pret-a-Manger and British Airways and resulted in the altering of product-labelling laws and the closing of gaps in regulations.

The work of HR lawyers remains vital in order to shape future laws that help every group of people. "As tragic as some cases may be, they often lead to significant changes being made to the guidelines to prevent such instances from happening again," White said. 



by Mia Honigstein