Hogan Lovells secures important victory in French human trafficking case

Hogan Lovells secures important victory in French human trafficking case

Press releases | 26 January 2023

Paris, London, 26 January 2023 – In a precedent-setting case, a joint Paris and London team supported the compensation application of a victim of human trafficking, with the Paris team advocating successfully before the Paris Court of Appeals.

The Paris Court of Appeals has, for the first time to our knowledge, accepted that a police report made in a country other than France was decisive evidence to show that human trafficking did occur in France. This is important to victims of trafficking who are often trafficked through multiple jurisdictions. The Hogan Lovells team argued that it is not proportionate to expect a victim to file police reports in each country that they are held in. 

The firm’s client has been awarded compensation on that basis.

Gauthier Vannieuwenhuyse and Lédéa Sawadogo-Lewis, respectively Counsel and Business Lawyer in the firm’s Paris international arbitration practice, noted: “We hope that this case will set an important precedent for victims of trafficking and help the development of cross-border cooperation to assist the possibility of compensation for victims.”

Rhian Lewis, senior associate in the firm’s pro bono practice, commented: “This landmark judgment strengthens the case for the use of existing international and national legal frameworks to fund damages for victims of human trafficking and other abuses. This is a significant step in the direction of corrective justice.”

The Hogan Lovells team included Thomas Kendra (Partner), Gauthier Vannieuwenhuyse (Counsel), Rhian Lewis (Senior Associate), Lucas Aubry (Associate), and Lédéa Sawadogo-Lewis (Business Lawyer).

The case forms part of Hogan Lovells’ commitment to access to justice and obtaining reparations for victims of human trafficking. Last year, the firm also secured a historic win for its client Pacific Links Foundation, which represented a number of families of the “Essex 39”. In a landmark judgment, the Bruges Court of First Instance ruled that a damages award should be in favour of a number of victims, who tragically died in a refrigerated lorry, having been trafficked to the UK via Belgium on 23 October 2019. This case is subject to appeal.