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Claims against the trafficker

Claims can be brought either in the employment tribunal or in the courts (High Court or County Court). Which forum is the most appropriate will depend on a number of different factors.

These factors are dealt with in more detail under the two sections but the following are likely to be important:

Time limits

A claim in the employment tribunal must be brought three months less one day from the end of the trafficking situation. In contrast, a claim in the court should be brought within six years of the beginning of the trafficking situation.

The nature of the relationship between trafficker and victim

If the type of work has significant aspects of a more conventional employment situation (e.g. domestic, factory or agricultural work, then employment law is more likely to be useful and the employment tribunal may be appropriate.

If the relationship bears little resemblance to a normal employment relationship for instance sex trafficking, organised begging or trafficking of a child then the court might be the more appropriate choice.

The employment tribunal deals purely with employment law (although this is very widely defined) whereas the courts have no such limitations.

If it is difficult to argue that there is any form of contract between the victim and the trafficker (for instance because the victim is a child or in a sex trafficking situation), the court may be more appropriate.

The experience at the hearing

The employment tribunal is generally recognised as a less intimidating environment that the courts. However, claims in the tribunal more commonly go to a full hearing where the victim would have to be in the same room as their traffickers.

Claims in the employment tribunal are usually much quicker. All things being equal, a claim in the employment tribunal may take between six months and one year. Claims in the courts usually take longer.

If a victim cannot obtain legal aid, it is very inadvisable to go to court because the victim will be at risk on costs.

How many years of national minimum wage are owed?

In the employment tribunal, it is only possible to recover two years of national minimum wage (or £20,000 whichever is the greater) whereas the courts can award six years of national minimum wage.