Nick Grundy QC and Millie Polimac successfully defend a claim under EU law

13th June 2018

Nick and Millie represented the LB Hammersmith and Fulham (“LBHF”), the Defendant, in a claim by XPQ, a victim of human trafficking. Sir Brian Langstaff handed down judgment on 7 June 2018. Please click here for a copy of the judgement.

XPQ made a homeless application to LBHF after her period of accommodation under the National Referral Mechanism ended. LBHF accepted that it owed XPQ the duty under the Housing Act 1996, ss. 188(1); to provide her with housing whilst her homeless application was investigated and performed that duty. XPQ’s claimed that the accommodation provided to her in performance of the s. 188(1) duty breached duties to her as a trafficked person, in that: (1) the first accommodation she was provided with was not in a single-sex premises, resulting in her being assaulted; (2) the second, self-contained accommodation was in an unsafe area, resulting, allegedly in her meeting a member of the gang by which she had been trafficked.

XPQ relied on the following causes of action:
(1) That Article 11 of Directive 2011/36/EU on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings had direct effect and that it required LBHF to provide appropriate and safe accommodation’;
(2) That LBHF breached Articles 3 (‘freedom from torture etc.’), 4 (‘freedom from slavery etc.’) and 8 (‘right to home etc.’) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
(3) Breach of statutory duty; and
(4) Negligence.

Langstaff J. rejected all of the causes of action relied upon, but held that the Directive had indirect effect; suitable accommodation for the purposes of s. 188(1) is to be read as meaning appropriate and safe insofar as a trafficked person is concerned. However, the leading authority, O’Rourke v Camden LBC [1998] AC 188 applied and a breach of statutory duty under the Housing Act 1996 did not give rise to a damages claim.

Furthermore the judge found that XPQ failed on the facts: some of the events about which XPQ complained had not occurred, or where they had occurred LBHF was not in breach of the alleged duty.