To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate his Department has made of the number of potential victims of modern slavery who have (a) sought free legal assistance and (b) been denied such assistance in each year for which information is available.
16 May 2018
The Legal Aid Agency cannot identify all applicants for legal aid that have been potential victims of modern slavery, as such a status is only captured in cases where the legal aid scheme makes specific provision for such individuals, for example, immigration advice for those identified as a potential victim of modern slavery though the National Referral Mechanism. Victims of modern slavery can also access other forms of legal aid, although such instances will not be discernible from the LAA’s systems.
Legal aid for potential victims of modern slavery is available by way of Legal Help or Controlled Legal Representation. However, as the application process for this type of legal aid is devolved to the instructed solicitor, the number of instances where such legal aid was sought or refused cannot be reported on, and furthermore such cases can only be identified when they are reported to the LAA after their conclusion.
For Civil Representation, decisions on funding are taken by the LAA and it is possible to identify applications and refusals at the outset of the case. The information below shows how many legal aid certificates have been issued to victims making claims for damages which arise from trafficking. These figures only relate to public funding where we know the applicant is potentially a victim by the nature of the service sought and will not include other cases where a victim may have sought legal aid
Qualifying for free legal assistance will depend upon an individual’s financial circumstances for cases where a means test and a merits test must be undertaken in order to obtain legal aid.