An Uphill Struggle: Securing Legal Status for Victims and Survivors of Trafficking


Dr Samantha Currie, Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Law School, and Johanna Bezzano, In-house Solicitor and Lecturer at Liverpool Law Clinic, have published a research report which examines the impact of legal representation on victims and survivors of trafficking.

The report includes a number of policy recommendations aimed at improving the processes individuals who have experienced trafficking or modern slavery, and the lawyers representing them, must navigate to secure their legal status.

The full report can be accessed below, as well as the executive summary.

An Uphill Struggle Research Report cover

An Uphill Struggle: Securing Legal Status for Victims and Survivors of Trafficking

Research Report, February 2021

There is a growing recognition that victims and survivors of trafficking and other ‘modern slavery’ offences often experience difficulties accessing specialist legal advice as to their trafficking and immigration statuses. This is significant owing to the intrinsic connection between trafficking and immigration, and the centrality of the Home Office in the relevant decision-making processes. High quality legal advice can be a crucial gateway to securing formal identification as a victim and, for many, for establishing a secure immigration status in the UK. Legal representation can also be important for accessing the full range of support services, engaging with criminal justice processes, and obtaining redress for abuse.

This research project set out to explore the impact of legal representation on victims and survivors of modern slavery, such as trafficking, forced labour or domestic servitude. It focussed particularly on those navigating the decision-making frameworks which determine access to the status of ‘victim of modern slavery’ and entitlement to leave to remain in the UK.


An Uphill Struggle Executive Summary cover

An Uphill Struggle: Securing Legal Status for Victims and Survivors of Trafficking

Executive Summary 

Through a combination of desk-based research and analysis of legal case files relating to clients who were represented as part of the Liverpool Law Clinic anti-trafficking project, the research aimed to:

  • analyse the course of the legal interactions between the solicitor - acting on behalf of the clients - and the Home Office, as well as other agencies, such as support providers, legal practitioners and the Courts and Tribunals Service; and to
  • situate this analysis within the context of the law and policy framework and broader research literature on access to legal advice and representation for victims and survivors of trafficking.