The first UK website to crowdfund public interest cases launched last month and reached its target to fund its first claim – the David and Goliath battle between a Colombian trade unionist and a British oil company.

Set up by former Linklaters solicitor, Julia Salasky, CrowdJustice is an online funding platform that brings people together to share the cost of taking legal action for issues that affect their community.

To submit a case, parties must have legal representation. They set the target they require and the site charges a fee of 5% of the funds raised.

Salasky said the legal aid cuts have made the need for crowdfunding more urgent, but that many vulnerable people have always struggled to access the law.

She said: “The courts shouldn’t just be for those who can afford it. We believe that there is enormous power in the community that can be harnessed to achieve legal change.”

Meanwhile, what is understood to be the largest public access case also used a type of crowdfunding to get off the ground.

Represented by Cotswold Barristers, a group of landlords challenged the legality of West Bromwich Building Society’s decision to hike its buy-to-let tracker rates by 2%. Though Mr Justice Teare found in favour of the building society, the group has been given permission to appeal.

The case was funded by the claimants pooling their resources, which were then paid into the Bar Council’s escrow account.

Paul Mosson, Director of Services at the Bar Council, said: “This case is an example of modern justice in action.”

A group of campaigners has raised through crowdfunding more than £50,000 to launch an advertising campaign highlighting the importance of the Human Rights Act. The move comes against the backdrop of Conservative Government plans to scrap the legislation. #ActfortheAct posters will appear across tube and rail networks.