The Doughty Street Anti-Trafficking group is a cross-disciplinary group with specialist expertise on rights of victims of trafficking / Modern Slavery within different areas of law in which we are consistently and highly ranked; amongst these:

  • crime, including trafficking defences, appeals against conviction and CCRC applications;

  • criminal remedies, confiscation and compensation orders;

  • extradition;

  • immigration and asylum, including leave to remain at a trafficking victim, overseas domestic workers applications, asylum and human rights claims, and deportation;

  • public law challenges to identification decisions under the National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking;

  • public law challenges in relation to support, assistance, housing;

  • court of protection;

  • equality and discrimination;

  • employment;

  • age disputes in criminal and immigration proceedings;

  • unlawful detention and false imprisonment;

  • claims for statutory compensation - Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and the Miscarriage of Justice Assessment Scheme;

  • claims against the police and CPS, including negligence and failures to investigate;

  • judicial reviews of failures to prosecute traffickers and of decisions to prosecute victims;

  • inquests;

  • civil claims and claims for damages, including under the Human Rights Act;

  • claims in tort against public authorities, employers and traffickers;

  • licensing - Gangmasters Licensing Authority;

  • corporate accountability and supply chains;

  • forced criminality and non-criminalisation of trafficked persons in the International Criminal Court.

Our members have highly specialised knowledge of the interlocking domestic and international legal frameworks specifically designed to protect victims of trafficking.

Members of the group have helped to shape this developing area of law: they frequently act for and work with leading NGOs and campaigners in this field, advise on legislative and policy developments and consultations, including campaigning for the offence of holding another person in slavery or servitude to be brought into English law through the Coroners and Justice Act 2009; and in relation to legal aid for victims of trafficking; and the Modern Slavery Act.

Members have been involved in many of the leading cases to date; and are also involved in setting up and advising on policy and systemic challenges, working together effectively across a range of specialist areas of law. Our members have also contributed to the leading practitioners’ text book in the field: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice (Bloomsbury Professional, Second Edition, 2020).

Notable cases include:

VCL & AN v the United Kingdom Application nos. 77587/12 and 74603/12, judgment 16 February 2021 - first case on non-prosecution of child victims of trafficking under the duty to protect under Art 4 ECHR

DA & Ors v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWHC 3080 (Admin) – challenge to secret unpublished abridged screening policy under the Dublin III process which failed to identify victims of trafficking unlawful.

MS (Pakistan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] UKSC 9 - jurisdiction of the Immigration Tribunal to determine trafficking claims in asylum and human rights appeals; and the Home Office duty to investigate under Article 4 ECHR.

R (DS) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 3046 (Admin) - test case challenge, securing a declaration that the Home Office’s policy, which prevented victims of trafficking from making requests for reconsideration of negative decisions, is unlawful in breach of common law fairness and the Article 4 positive duty to investigate situations of trafficking and complete accurate identification of victims of trafficking. This resulted in the Home Office amending its policy.

R (O and Anr) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 148 (Admin) - challenging the systemic delays in the Competent Authority’s process for identifying victims of trafficking as being contrary to the UK’s international obligations to trafficked victims

PK (Ghana) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 9 - Home Office policy on residence permits for victims of trafficking (Discretionary Leave to Remain) struck down for non-compliance with UK’s trafficking obligations.

R (MN) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 3268 (Admin) and R (IXU) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 12 (Admin) - test case appeals on the correct standard of proof in determining whether a person is a victim of trafficking under Article 4 ECHR and related international trafficking obligations. A separate point of law arises In IXU relating to the approach to the assessment of credibility in a child victim case.

R (on the application of FT) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (“rolling review”; challenging leave granted) [2017] UKUT 00331(IAC) – successful challenge to the refusal to grant ILR to a victim of trafficking in which the Tribunal gave guidance recognising the relevance of the impact short grants of leave can have on mental health, and also harm caused by the Home Office.

R v L; R. v N [2017] EWCA Crim 2129 -the CACD considered the UK's international obligations to victims of trafficking forced to commit crimes integral to their trafficked status and set aside the convictions of two young Vietnamese men convicted of cannabis cultivation. The first time the question of anonymity and the position of VOTs who have been granted anonymity in concurrent immigration proceedings, has been fully considered.

R (XYL) v SSHD [2017] EWHC 773, successful unlawful detention claim establishing, as a principle, that detention of a victim of trafficking further to an NRM referral amounts to false imprisonment.

R v VSJ and ors [2017] EWCA Crim 36, - on the compliance of the common law defence of duress with the UK's international obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings on the non-punishment of victims of trafficking whose crimes are connected with their exploitation.

Chowdury v Greece [2017] ECHR 300 - landmark case establishing the definition of forced labour for the purposes of Article 4 ECHR includes those who are controlled by their exploiters notwithstanding ability to have limited free movement and the positive obligations under Article 4 including a duty to identify and assist in victim recovery.

Galdikas & Ors, R v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors (Rev 1) [2016] WLR(D) 214 -  Extension of support duty to prevent victims of trafficking facing cliff-face upon exiting the NRM.

Y & Others v SSHD and the FTT (IAC) [2015] EWHC - Unlawful processing of victims of trafficking and LGBTQI minorities with the detained fast track in breach of published policy, Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.

R (Detention Action) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 1634 - Detained Fast Track asylum process challengeincluding the detention of victims of trafficking.

Gudanaviciene & Ors, R (on the application of) v The Director of Legal Aid Casework & Or [2014] EWCA Civ 1622 – challenge to the refusal of exceptional case funding under LASPO to victims of trafficking for legal advice prior to a reasonable grounds decision by the Competent Authority, as a breach of enforceable EU/Convention rights under the Trafficking Directive 2011/36, Charter rights, the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, Articles 4 and 8 ECHR.

JVL v. Austria, Application no. 58216/12. The first case concerning the obligations of a transit state towards victims of trafficking. Article 4 ECHR challenge to the refusal to investigate credible allegations of trafficking by three victims of forced labour and trafficking on the basis that parts of the trafficking chain occurred outside of Austria. With the AIRE Centre.

Igbinovia v President of the Criminal Division (Seccion Segunda De La Audencia Provincial De Santa Cruz De Tenerife) [2014] EWHC 4512 (Admin) (09 December 2014) - appeal from the decision of District Judge Snow ordering the appellant's extradition to Spain to serve the balance of a sentence of imprisonment for the importation of cocaine, on the basis that it was wrong to proceed with the extradition hearing when the issue of trafficking was still being considered under the NRM; and as an abuse of process.

R (Atamewan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] 1 WLR 1959 - successful challenge to the Home Office policy on "historical victims" of trafficking resulting in withdrawal of the policy which denied protection and assistance to victims who delayed in approaching the authorities. The Divisional Court also held that the Home Office have an Article 4 positive obligation to trigger an investigation where a credible allegation of trafficking is received. 

HA CO/12029/2011. Challenge to the treatment of asylum appeals as abandoned where victims of trafficking are granted twelve months leave to remain. Led the Home Office to amend its Asylum Process Instruction on Discretionary Leave so as to grant leave for one year and one day to enable victims to pursue a statutory appeal.

The Government of Lithuania v AI [2010] EWHC 2299 (Admin). Extradition defeated owing to protection concerns because AI had been trafficked into prostitution and was AI of specific assistance to the police in this country in connection with the investigation into trafficking of women for prostitution.

For more information please contact Sian Wilkins on 020 7404 1313.