The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first legislative framework to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century. It increases the power of law enforcement (criminal and civil) surrounding slavery and trafficking in the modern day, creates new offences and places obligations on businesses and individuals.

Tackling modern slavery is one of law enforcement’s priorities when it comes to fighting serious and organised crime. The term ‘modern slavery’ refers to human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Cases are usually prosecuted by the National Crime Agency (‘NCA ‘) who workswith partner organisations such as the police, the Crown Prosecution Services and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), whose role is to protect vulnerable and exploited workers, to tackle modern slavery.

The penalties under the Modern Slavery Act are severe – ranging from substantial terms of imprisonment for individuals and large fines for corporates.

How we can help

Our broadly-based criminal and regulatory practice gives us the experience needed to provide our clients with the best strategically-sound and practical advice. We are one of very few firms who have been awarded a contract by the Legal Aid Agency to offer advice to victims of modern slavery on Legal Aid. We take a holistic view and often find those accused of other offences may themselves be the victims of Modern Slavery or Trafficking and we can advise on the support that is available, your legal options and whether you have a defence in law to the underlying allegations based on the fact you are the victim of modern slavery. We also offer advice to businesses and individuals to ensure compliance with the rules.

Whether advising businesses or individuals caught up in investigations relating to modern slavery, to conducting internal investigations for companies or advising individuals affected by those internal investigations, we help our clients steer a course through the legal, regulatory and reputational challenges such situations present. 

It is often a business, rather than the police or an investigating/enforcement agency that begins an investigation.  The internal investigation has become an increasingly common feature of the UK corporate landscape.

A whistleblower alert, a discrepancy thrown up by internal audit or a query raised by a supplier or customer may each point to potential criminal activity or a regulatory breach, meaning that an organisation needs to discover the facts.

How this is handled can have significant legal, financial and reputational consequences.  We are adept at managing all aspects of an internal investigation – from agreeing its necessary scope to managing the technical and legal pitfalls of data collection and then conducting interviews, whether in person or remotely. We can also give you the advice you need on whether and, if so, when to report to relevant authorities and we have the experience to help you manage the resolution stage.

We can assist with discreet, focused exercises to large-scale and high-profile international investigations.

Our team of lawyers has many years of experience advising on human rights, regulatory investigations, organisational change and policy implementation. 

We advise on compliance with the Modern Slavery Act, including Modern Slavery statements.

Investigations into corporates raise complex questions of criminal law and regulation, and present the company with a raft of commercial, employment and reputational issues to confront. Drawing from across the firm, we have the skills and experience to provide the company with the advice it needs to manage the situation in the round.

Individuals caught up in investigations also require expert advice before they respond to requests by their employers or investigative authorities for the provision of information through interview.

Whether being called as a suspect or witness, it is essential to have advice from specialist advisers to protect your interests whatever the wider context.

Our lawyers have advised  interviews on a myriad of matters, including investigations launched by the GLAA.

As both one of the view firms awarded a Legal Aid Contract to provide Legally Aided advice to victims of Modern Slavery, and criminal defence specialists, we can advice those accused of another offence whether their status as a victim of Modern Slavery or People Trafficking affords them a defence in law, their support options through the National Referral Mechanism and how to protect themselves.

For more information on how to raise Modern Slavery or Trafficking as a defence contact one of our experts.