Employment Lawyers and Civil Litigators: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to apply for Matter Starts 

If your firm has experience in personal injury, tort and contract claims then now is your chance to consider expanding your legal aid practice to include bringing claims for victims of trafficking and modern slavery. If your organisation has employment and discrimination law expertise, and wants to do employment law under legal aid, then this is your opportunity. 

All face to face contracts in the Legal Aid Agency’s (LAA) Invitation to Tender for a 2018 Civil Contract include the opportunity to apply for up to 100 Matter Starts to undertake compensation claims for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery. This work is in scope under paragraphs 32(2) and (3) and 32A (2) and (3) of Part 1 of Schedule 1 of LASPO.

ATLEU are encouraging firms to apply for Miscellaneous Matter Starts so that they can undertake this vital work for victims of trafficking and modern slavery. Following ATLEU’s judicial review against the Lord Chancellor, the Ministry of Justice and LAA conducted a review of existing arrangements for providing legal aid for advice and assistance in respect of trafficking and modern slavery compensation claims. The review found that the likely demand for Legal Help for these cases was not being met. Now the LAA are making additional Matter Starts available to providers.

Useful information about running a compensation case for a victim of trafficking

In 2014 the Home Office estimated that there were 13,000 people living in slavery in the UK today. The National Crime Agency (NCA) have since said the numbers are likely to be higher. To be eligible for Legal Help the victim does not need to have been referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is the identification process for victims of trafficking and slavery. 

Many victims will have claims for unpaid wages, discrimination, harassment, false imprisonment and assault and battery. Claims can frequently be worth upwards of £100,000 just for a failure to pay the National Minimum Wage.

Legal Help covers all steps up to pre-action for claims in the County or High Court following which the provider can apply for a public funding certificate. The costs of advocacy are in scope as is cost of an enquiry into the Defendant’s assets. Cases are often lengthy and Certificate limits can be high. 

Cases in the employment tribunal can be run up to and including hearing on Legal Help and providers can apply for Exceptional Case Funding to cover advocacy in the Employment Tribunal.

Compensation work can sit well alongside the work of your immigration department. Pursing a compensation case can be an important argument in a victim’s application for leave to remain. 

Applying for Matter Starts 

Compensation claims are not allocated under a contract specific category. Instead providers apply for Miscellaneous Matter Starts at the same time as they respond to an ITT for any civil face to face category. 

An applicant may apply for 25, 50, 75 or 100 Matter Starts. Where the applicant seeks more than 25 Matter Starts in their first year they will need to make a “business case” for more. This requires them to demonstrate: 

(i)    Their knowledge/experience of trafficking and/or modern slavery claims and their relevant legal expertise
(ii)    How clients will access their services (ie. signposting or referral arrangements)

Providers will not be able to self-grant a further 50% of their Matter Start allocation in the Miscellaneous Category. However, providers can apply to their Contract Manager for Supplementary Matter Starts in the Miscellaneous Category.
To assist those who do apply for Matter Starts and are interested in developing a practice in this area of work ATLEU is intending to provide training before the start of the 2018 Civil Contract. 

In the meantime if you want to find out more about the work you can email queries to atleuteam@atleu.org.uk.

Free compensation training for support providers

If you provide help and support to victims of trafficking, join us on a free introductory course next week to learn more about trafficking compensation claims.

The course will cover:

  • When to refer for advice on compensation
  • Types of compensation claim open to victims
  • Supporting a client through the compensation process. 

Course title: Compensation claims for Victims of Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery
Location: Freshfields 65 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1HS
Date:  Wednesday 1 November 2017
Time: 3pm – 5pm
Trainer: Jamila Duncan-Bosu of the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit

Jamila is a founding member of ATLEU where she specialises in making compensation claims for victims of trafficking and severe labour exploitation in the employment tribunal, County/High Court and from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

To register for your free place on this course, email jamila@atleu.org.uk by 30 October 2017

Government announces reform to identification system for victims

The government has announced new measures to identify and support victims of modern slavery. A well resourced system that can give high quality decision making, quickly, will be a positive step for victims. 

The National Referral Mechanism, the system by which victims of modern slavery are identified and provided with support, will be reformed in order to improve both the decision-making process and support offered.

We look forward to reading more detail on the proposals, in particular on how victims wishes and needs will be prioritised.

We particularly welcome the Home Secretary's stated commitment that decision makers should 'have access to the right information to provide high-quality support tailored to the unique needs of victims to help them begin to rebuild their lives.'

We are keen to see how these aims will work in practice and whether they will deliver real improvements to the support given to victims of trafficking.

To read the full government news release see here.

Diplomats no longer immune to claims from their domestic workers

Today the Supreme Court handed down judgement in the case of Reyes v Al-Malki [2017] UKSC 61. This is a major breakthrough for victims of modern slavery.

Previously domestic workers have been unable to seek redress from their diplomatic employers even where they have been trafficked to the UK and subjected to gross abuse and exploitation. Today the Supreme Court held that overseas domestic workers working in diplomatic households can bring claims against their employers and these claims will be heard once the diplomat has left their post.

Ms Reyes says: “I am delighted that the Supreme Court agrees that I can take my claim against the Al Malkis. I know there are lots of other domestic workers who have suffered like me and I am delighted that they will be able to use this case to get redress, and that they will not have to wait as long as I have done.”

Read more about the case here.

Victims receive compensation following the conviction of their traffickers

ATLEU acted for 18 victims who have all received compensation following criminal proceedings which were brought against their traffickers. 

What did ATLEU do? 

Awards of compensation arising from the confiscation of traffickers assets are few and far between. 

ATLEU worked closely with Hope for Justice to ensure that steps were taken to seek compensation for these victims. We hope that this is beginning of these orders being made as a matter of course in criminal proceedings. 

For more on this see Hope for Justice's news story.

New report on supporting adult survivors of slavery

The support currently provided to survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery is not meeting their needs, finds a new report by The Human Trafficking Foundation and their partners.

Among the report's key recommendations is that a positive conclusive grounds decision must carry status. At present, the conclusive grounds decision makes very little difference to a victim’s life in practice. Some victims even receive the decision that they have been conclusively identified as trafficked together with a letter telling them they have no leave to remain in the UK.

The report further finds that government-funded support ends abruptly, too early and that there is little information on what happens to survivors in the longer term. The current situation leaves survivors with little realistic opportunity to rebuild their lives, with some ending up destitute, vulnerable to further harm or even being re-exploited. 

Read the full report here