In March this year, the government settled our Judicial Review which challenged its failure to give victims the legal support to bring compensation claims against their traffickers. The government told the Court that it would review legal aid for victims and aim to produce a report by the end of June 2016.
Despite our requests, however, the Ministry of Justice had still not replied to us about progress on this review by the end of November, over five months later.
The Legal Aid Agency has now announced it will put out an expression of interest for legal aid lawyers who want to work on modern slavery cases. However, if this does not result in adequate provision of legal aid for victims of trafficking and slavery to bring compensation claims against their perpetrators ATLEU intends to bring a further legal challenge.
Following our representations, the Legal Aid Agency did agree to let us take 25 cases for victims this year, a considerable increase on their original allocation of just five. However, this is no substitute for a national scheme and we hope that the upcoming expression of interest will establish a much-needed national network of lawyers working for victims.