Laura Banks’ story: challenging injustice all the way to the Supreme Court

February 2023

We asked Laura Banks from Siobhan McLaughlin’s legal team to share her perspective on taking Siobhan’s case all the way to the highest court in the land – and winning!

Why did you believe this was a fight worth fighting for?

“I believe that the rights of children will always be worth fighting for. It is inherently wrong to treat children differently on the basis of whether their parents are married or not – something they have no say in. 

Laura, Siobhan and Vicky at the AGM in 2019

Marriage does not factor into how the benefits system deals with households in any other benefit. This was a very obvious injustice that had to be challenged. It was a privilege to act for Siobhan in bringing this important case, which ultimately led the way in UK wide reform for thousands of families going forward.”

Do you remember when you first met Siobhan McLaughlin and started to believe you could win this case?

“I will always remember my first meeting with Siobhan. I was struck by what a committed, compassionate and child focussed mum she was, how unassuming and humble she was but at the same time how resolute she was that she would take on the UK Government to stand up for her children’s rights. 

Without a doubt this case has been a major highlight in my career. Winning at the Supreme Court was vindicating after a number of challenges in the case. For the court to confirm that this amounted to discrimination against children was ground breaking.

"This case attracted a lot of media attention and will have a huge impact far and wide as thousands of families will benefit."

I cannot say that any other single case I have worked on has had such an impact. Usually the only person who benefits is the client I am representing and barely anyone else ever hears about cases. Conversely, in this case, my client Siobhan has not yet benefitted at all financially and that gives me great dissatisfaction. 

I desperately want to see Siobhan and her children recompensed. After all, Siobhan was the woman who paved the way for this reform. It is wrong that she has yet to receive any sort of compensation or payments. Her children are now adults and have had to endure unnecessary hardship. I have often been told that the wheels of justice turn slowly. I really appreciate that now. 

I first met Siobhan in 2014, almost a decade ago. Although a challenge to the UK Government might have seemed insurmountable, I believed we could and would win. I could have never imagined that it would take 9 or 10 years to bring about a change.”

Do you have any advice for others standing up for injustices? 

“My advice is to trust your gut and believe in yourself. It might seem impossible, but it is always worth making a stand against injustice.” 

Read Siobhan’s story...