In this claim, the Claimant sought a substantial award of damages under s.7 of the Human Rights Act 1998 claim due to alleged breaches by the Home Office of her rights under Article 4 ECHR and the Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.
The primary ground of challenge was that, upon establishing that the Claimant was a trafficked person, the Home Office was required by Article 4 ECHR to refer her case to the police promptly in order to initiate an effective investigation, and that the failure to do so until January 2014 was thus unlawful. Rejecting this ground, the Court accepted that Defendant’s submissions that the central question was whether the time taken to refer the Claimant’s case to the police had undermined the police’s ability to conduct an effective investigation, and that there was no evidence of this on the facts of the case.
The Court rejected two additional grounds of challenge to the failure of the Home Office to recognise her as a trafficked person during the course of her initial visa application in 2008 and/or during the course of processing her failed asylum claim in 2010. The Court held that these grounds fell outside the scope of the Claimant’s pleaded case, were out of time and that it would be prejudicial to the Defendant to permit the Claimant to argue them belatedly. The Court also accepted the Defendant’s submission that, even if the Claimant had established that her rights under Article 4 ECHR had been infringed, the evidence provided by the claimant was inadequate to enable any proper assessment of damages to have been made and that letters from her doctor were no substitute for a formal expert’s report filed under CPR Part 35.
The Court’s judgment provides an important reminder of the need for claimants in judicial review proceedings to plead their case properly from the outset.