Our public law department secured more suitable accommodation for our client, a victim of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, after urgent interim relief was obtained in the High Court.
Our client fled her home country in 2013 after being forcibly conscripted into military service. However, she was trafficked into domestic servitude in Sudan and experienced horrific sexual violence at the hands of her agent and “employers”. After fleeing to Europe, our client experienced further sexual violence whilst street homeless in Italy.
Once in the UK, the client claimed asylum, and the Home Office provided her with asylum support accommodation whilst her claim was considered. However, despite her extreme vulnerabilities, the client was forced to share a room with strangers which she found unsettling and which hampered her recovery. The Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards, which the UK government are to adopt, states that “having a private place to sleep in and take care of oneself is an essential component for survivors’ long-term, sustained recovery”.
In June 2019, the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organisation working with survivors of torture, war, genocide, human trafficking for sexual exploitation or labour (modern day slavery), requested that the client be moved to single-occupancy accommodation. However, by January 2020, when GT Stewart Solicitors were instructed, the Home Office had failed to secure suitable accommodation despite its Allocation of Accommodation Policy (version 5), stating that clients of the Helen Bamber Foundation, ‘as a general rule, and wherever possible […] should not be required to share bedrooms with strangers’.
Urgent pre-action correspondence was sent to the Home Office by GT Stewart’s Public Law team. After no adequate response was received, urgent applications for judicial review and interim relief were filed at the High Court. Within a matter of hours, the court had ordered the Home Office to secure single-occupancy accommodation for the client within 1.5 hours of the Helen Bamber Foundation. The court acknowledged that, “the claimant’s extreme and distressing personal circumstances and history, justify the interim relief sought”.
The client was represented by Matthew Court and was assisted by Doughty Street Chambers’ Marisa Cohen who drafted the grounds for judicial review and interim relief.