Section 1

homepage-img2

flag United Kingdom

Abuse of vulnerability Corporate criminal liability Criminal liability Forced labour Slavery

Section 1 criminalises holding another person in slavery or servitude and requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour. This section clarifies that all circumstances must be taken into account in order to determine whether a person is being held in slavery or servitude or required to perform forced labour; and provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances, including any personal circumstances which may make the person more vulnerable (such as the person being a child, the person’s family relationships, and any mental or physical illness); and any work or services provided by the person.

Notes

Subsection 1(1) replaces the existing offence in section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which is repealed by Schedule 5 of the Act. Section 71(1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is substantively the same as subsection 1(1) of the Act. However, the offence has been supplemented by provisions that clarify that regard may be had to all the circumstances of the case, including any circumstances that make the victim particularly vulnerable (i.e. where the person is a child).

References to holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention. The consent of the alleged victim does not preclude a finding that the person is being held in slavery or servitude or being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

There is no indication in the Act as to whether this provision creates criminal liability for corporate entities. However the Government has suggested that the offences under the Act can be committed by companies, applying the “usual principles of corporate criminal liability”.  This requires proving the necessary intention on the part of one or more senior natural person(s) who is/are the “controlling mind” of the corporate entity.

Link to full text

Text

Section 1. Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour

(1)A person commits an offence if—

(a)the person holds another person in slavery or servitude and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the other person is held in slavery or servitude, or

(b)the person requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and the circumstances are such that the person knows or ought to know that the other person is being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

(2)In subsection (1) the references to holding a person in slavery or servitude or requiring a person to perform forced or compulsory labour are to be construed in accordance with Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention.

(3)In determining whether a person is being held in slavery or servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour, regard may be had to all the circumstances.

(4)For example, regard may be had—

(a)to any of the person’s personal circumstances (such as the person being a child, the person’s family relationships, and any mental or physical illness) which may make the person more vulnerable than other persons;

(b)to any work or services provided by the person, including work or services provided in circumstances which constitute exploitation within section 3(3) to (6).

(5)The consent of a person (whether an adult or a child) to any of the acts alleged to constitute holding the person in slavery or servitude, or requiring the person to perform forced or compulsory labour, does not preclude a determination that the person is being held in slavery or servitude, or required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Law / United Kingdom / Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first piece of legislation in the UK dedicated to ‘modern slavery’. The Act consolidates and simplifies all of the criminal offences of forced labour, slavery and human trafficking into one Act.

The Act specifically provides for the making of reparation orders, requiring offenders to pay their victims damages, and creates a statutory defence for victims of modern slavery to protect them from prosecution for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. It also provides for the establishment of the office of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Finally, the Act imposes a requirement on certain businesses operating in the UK to disclose what activity they are undertaking to eliminate slavery and trafficking from their supply chains and their own businesses.