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Claims against the state

It may be possible to obtain compensation from the UK state, if the state has failed to comply with the duty placed upon it to protect victims of trafficking.

The duty of the state

Various parts of the government are under a duty under Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights to protect victims. If they fail to comply with this duty, compensation may follow.

These claims may occur when part of the state became aware of indicators that the victim might be a victim of trafficking and failed to act upon it.

The first step in such a claim is to identify a failure by a branch of the state. The most common branches of the state to be considered are the Immigration Authorities, the police and local authorities.

Common failures by the state

The following are some of the more common breaches by the state:

  • Failure by the Immigration Authorities. When a person who is a member of a group who are recognised as being at risk of trafficking (such as overseas domestic workers) is granted a visa to enter the UK, but without being advised of the risks of trafficking and the remedies available to them in the United Kingdom.
  • The Immigration Authorities becoming aware, perhaps through immigration proceedings or detention, of trafficking indicators and failing to refer under the National Referral Mechanism.
  • The police becoming aware of trafficking indicators (for instance when there has been an allegation made against the victim) and failing to refer into the National Referral Mechanism.
  • A local authority disclosing the victim’s whereabouts to the trafficker.

Time Limits

Under the Human Rights Act claims should be brought within one year of the act complained of, the breach of Article 4 by the state. However, time limits in Human Rights Act claims are somewhat less strictly enforced than in other claims and an extension of time may be possible depending on the individual circumstances. For instance, if the person has been in the trafficking situation for more than a year following the failure by the state.

Value of claims and residence permits

Compensation in claims against the state is often lower than in claims against traffickers, although this will depend on the individual circumstances. However, claims against the state do not have the same enforcement difficulties that may accompany claims against traffickers.

In principle a victim bringing a claim against the state should be able to obtain discretionary leave to permit them to live and work in the United Kingdom during the period of the proceedings.

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