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Supreme Court rules in favour of trafficking victims’ rights to compensation irrespective of immigration status

Hounga v Allen (2014) UKSC 47

Human trafficking campaigners have welcomed a Supreme Court ruling that victims are entitled to be compensated for mistreatment even if their entry into the UK was illegal.

The case related to a child, trafficked into the UK and exploited as a domestic worker.  Her subsequent claim for damages against her former employer was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on grounds that her employment was illegal and she had consented to that illegality (‘illegality doctrine’).

Anti-Slavery International, represented by Public Interest Lawyers, made an intervention in the case at the Supreme Court.  It identified that the public policies seeking to deter and punish traffickers risked being undermined if, by the application of the ‘illegality doctrine’, traffickers were able to avoid paying compensation to their victims.  

A majority of the judges sitting in the Supreme Court accepted the submission and emphasised that the UK needs to honour its obligations under international law and protect the rights of victims of trafficking irrespective of their immigration status. 

Coverage from the UK Human Rights Blog can be accessed here.                                  

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