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Lorraine Cox: an inspiration whose courage helped to secure fundamental change to the law on terminal illness

26th July, 2022

Law Centre NI would like to pay tribute to our brave and inspirational client, Lorraine Cox, following her death on 15 July 2022.

Everyone at Law Centre NI is in awe of Lorraine’s courage and the legacy that she leaves behind.

A mother of three children, Lorraine was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in September 2018. Following her terminal illness diagnosis, Lorraine had a difficult experience of the benefits system. At this challenging time in her life, Lorraine bravely spoke out about her experience and campaigned for a change to the rules surrounding access to social security benefits for terminally ill people.

Even when her own individual circumstances were resolved, Lorraine remained determined to ensure that the law was changed so that no one else with a terminal illness diagnosis had to go through the same experience as she did.

Owen McCloskey is Law Centre NI’s Head of Social Security and Lorraine’s Legal Officer. He said:

“Myself and everyone at Law Centre NI were deeply saddened to hear about Lorraine’s passing. The Law Centre assisted Lorraine with her legal challenge against the rules surrounding access to social security benefits for those with a terminal illness. Lorraine had a difficult experience of claiming benefits after she received her diagnosis and she wanted to ensure that no one else had to go through a similar experience.”

“Lorraine’s legal challenge was a vital contributor in changing the law - extending the prognosis criteria from six to 12 months for people with a terminal illness. This change has made such a crucial difference to terminally ill people across the United Kingdom claiming benefits, including those with Motor Neurone Disease.”

“Lorraine was a passionate campaigner, and we would like to pay tribute to her bravery and determination. She stepped forward during an impossibly difficult period to challenge a law which impacts people at a tragic time in their lives. She has helped to secure a fundamental change and we are so thankful for her courage.”

The PILS Project supported Lorraine’s judicial review and the Law Centre’s legal team through their Pro Bono Register and Litigation Fund. PILS Director Maria McCloskey also reflected on the impact of Lorraine’s activism: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Lorraine’s desire to speak out has changed lives. Anyone in Northern Ireland who finds themselves in a similar situation to the one Lorraine faced will now have one less administrative hurdle to jump over. That is the legacy that Lorraine has given to us all.”

Lorraine fought so bravely for others and the thoughts of everyone at Law Centre NI are with her family and friends at this time.