People who have been enslaved or subjected to human trafficking should be entitled to compensation from their perpetrator, over and above and criminal sentence imposed on the perpetrator.
For the survivor, this compensation – while it cannot undo their years in slavery – often means a better future for them, and can be a significant factor in their recovery process because it can contribute to a sense of justice and closure, as well as to psychological recovery.
If a defendant is found guilty in the criminal courts, for example, a judge may impose a compensation order, requiring the offender to pay back a given amount to the victim.
Victims may also bring a civil claim – a claim for compensation against the person(s) at fault – relating to their exploitation.
Despite recognition at international level of the need for victims to be able to effectively access compensation, in the UK there is no specific civil remedy for human trafficking cases.
There is a barrier for victims accessing compensation via Trafficking and Modern Slavery Compensation Claims (TMSCCs) – claims under employment law or claims for damages that arise due to trafficking or exploitation. Only a small number of solicitors have developed a specialist practice in this area, or have the ability to take on cases.
Opportunities for law firms to attract a new client base
There is a high demand for representation for victims of trafficking and limited practitioners who specialise in this area.
Unfortunately, the issue of modern slavery in the UK is far from resolved and we expect to see an increase in the number of victims identified, especially as modern slavery becomes more understood and recognised.
This creates an opportunity for firms to develop and attract a new client base, and alongside the commercial incentive, for firms to assist those most vulnerable in our society to seek justice.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss this area of work further, please do not hesitate to contact Phillipa Roberts, Director of Legal Policy, at Phillipa.Roberts@hopeforjustice.org