4th June, 2024

Modern Slavery, Victims of Trafficking and the NRM

R (FH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 1327 (Admin)

Download the judgment in full HERE.

The Claimant contended that the Defendant had acted unlawfully, irrationally and in breach of Art 4 ECHR Convention obligations, resulting in excessive delays for those awaiting conclusive grounds decisions under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). It was also alleged that the Defendant had acted in breach of the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and had, in any event, acted unlawfully in the development and application of an unpublished policy. After a lengthy hearing, Farbey J dismissed all grounds.

In doing so, and whilst expressing concern regarding the issue of delays, the Judge accepted the submissions advanced on behalf of the Defendant:

(i) the Defendant was seeking to address demand and high volume of applications within finite resources;

(ii) there was no unpublished policy, but rather a managerial point of reference to guide decision makers;

(iii) the precedence afforded to applications was in part attributable to the introduction of the Ministerial Arrangement with Albania;

(iv) the Defendant was able to evidence its commitment to supplementing resources in the face of excessive demand; and

(v) insofar as there was a prioritisation, it arose out of the need to prioritise potential victims at the reasonable grounds decision stage, thereby maximising the opportunity for potential victims of trafficking to gain access to the protection of the Scheme and commencement of the recovery period under the NRM.

Ed Morgan KC represented the Defendant Secretary of State, leading Colin Thomann.

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