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Lawyers welcome amendments to Modern Slavery Bill

Lawyers for victims of trafficking and human slavery welcome amendments to Bill currently going through the House of Lords

3 December 2014

Lawyers at Leigh Day representing survivors of trafficking and modern slavery have welcomed proposed amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill that would establish a civil remedy for victims of trafficking.

Recent Home Office figures estimate that there are up to 13,000 victims of slavery in Britain. However, there are relatively few successful prosecutions. In 2011, the UK Government only recorded 8 successful trafficking prosecutions. There are even fewer civil claims brought on behalf of victims of trafficking.

There is not presently a recognized tort of ‘trafficking’ that would allow survivors to commence a civil claim against traffickers or those benefiting from trafficking.

The Modern Slavery Bill was introduced on 10 June 2014 and is currently at the Committee stage in the House of Lords. It creates offences of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.

Amendments proposed by Baroness Young of Hornsey and Baroness Hamwee will allow victims of modern slavery offences to bring civil claims against those committing the offences.

Shanta Martin, a partner at Leigh Day representing a number of victims of trafficking said:

“It is essential that Parliament prioritises the needs of victims of trafficking, including their right to access to justice. Civil remedies allowing victims to obtain compensation from perpetrators of trafficking as well as those who benefit from trafficking would go a very long way.

"Successful civil claims would also hit the traffickers where it hurts, reducing the profitability of these exploitative practices and creating an important deterrent.”

Benjamin Croft from Leigh Day’s International and Group Claims team said:

“Slavery is the scourge of modern Britain. The framework for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking and slavery is plainly inadequate. Although there are some prosecutions, the victims are often forgotten and left to pick up the pieces of their lives.

"The proposed amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill will go some way towards rectifying that problem”.

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