Trafficking and Modern Slavery Compensation Claims (TMSCC) are claims under employment law or claims for damages, in either case arising in connection with the trafficking or exploitation of an individual who is a victim of trafficking in human beings or in connection with the conduct by which the individual is a victim of slavery. The claims are within the scope of the legal aid scheme and fall within the miscellaneous category. Legal aid for these matters is available subject to statutory means and merits tests being met.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have now concluded a review of the arrangements for the provision of legal aid for advice and assistance for matters concerning TMSCCs. In particular, the review examined whether there are any existing barriers to accessing legal advice in this area. In supporting the review, the MOJ distributed a survey to legal aid providers and stakeholder charities involved in supporting victims of trafficking and modern slavery. The results of the survey, along with data from the Home Office and Legal Aid Agency (LAA) in relation to potential demand for legal advice in this area, formed the basis of the review.
Following the findings of the review, LAA have proposed introducing flexibility to enable some legal aid providers to undertake an increased number of TMSCC cases beyond the existing limit of 5 Matter Starts for miscellaneous work.
The evidence generated as a result of the survey suggests that there may be other factors acting as barriers to the access of legal aid beyond a limited number of available Matter Starts and as such, a number of additional actions will be explored further. These include:
- Increasing awareness of the process and what is involved for both legal aid providers and stakeholders.
- Working with front line non-Governmental organisations such as the Salvation Army to encourage referrals to providers able to provide legal help in human trafficking and modern slavery matters.
- Further investigation into whether language barriers hinder victims from accessing legal aid.
MOJ and LAA will work together to ensure that these actions are carried out and reviewed.
We will also work with the Home Office to assess how best to identify and communicate with non-governmental organisations and Local Authorities.