High Court declares correct age of child victim of trafficking and gives guidance on assessing credibility

Friday 10 July 2015

The High Court today quashed a decision made by the London Borough of Greenwich not to believe the age of a child victim of trafficking, known as MVN. The claimant was represented by Shu Shin Luh of Garden Court Chambers.

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The Claimant, MVN, was 13 years old when he was first trafficked from Vietnam to the UK; he was put in local authority care but was kidnapped whilst in care and locked in a cannabis farm and forced to water cannabis plants for 2 years. He escaped and was referred by the police to the London Borough of Greenwich. He was 15 years old at the time. He was placed in foster care and was supported by the local authority for a year and 2 months without any concerns until the local authority decided to disbelieve his age. Greenwich carried out an assessment which concluded that MVN, aged 16 at the time of the decision, was 23 years old instead and therefore not entitled to the protection and safeguards afforded to lone child trafficked victims under the Children Act 1989. The consequence of Greenwich’s decision was that MVN’s foster care placement was terminated; he was sent to adult hostel accommodation in the Midlands, away from the support he was receiving from his foster carer, his school and a local children’s charity.

It was only by a High Court interim injunction in judicial review proceedings that Greenwich was directed by the Court to take MVN back into its care pending the trial of his age.

Following a 4 day hearing on 23-24, 26 and 29 June 2015, the High Court handed down judgment today, declaring that MVN is the age he has always claimed to be and the decision of the local authority is to be quashed. The Judge in particular dismissed the apparent adverse credibility findings taken by Greenwich against MVN as unfounded, criticised the lack of practical experience of the social workers who conducted the age assessment and set down important points of principles on the correct approach to the assessment of credibility in age assessments.

The Claimant was represented by Shu Shin Luh of Garden Court Chambers. Shu Shin Luh is a member of the public law team and immigration team. She was instructed by Yolanda Faulkner of Scott-Moncrieff & Associates.

Find out more by reading the full judgement: MVN v London Borough of Greenwich [2015] EWHC 1942 (Admin).

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