R v Brecani - A Landmark Decision

R v Brecani  [2021] EWCA Crim 731 


Ben, leading Rebecca Austin, instructed by the CPS Appeals and Review Unit, appeared in this landmark decision which profoundly affects the law of evidence and criminal procedure in all cases in which a possible victim of trafficking or slavery faces a criminal trial. 


In a special court sitting of the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, the Vice President of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker accepted Ben’s argument that a conclusive grounds decision made by a Single Competent Authority appointed under the National Referral Mechanism and signed by a caseworker was not admissible as evidence in criminal proceedings in determining whether a defendant was a victim of modern slavery under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 Pt 5 s.45(4).


Caseworkers were not experts in human trafficking or modern slavery and could not give opinion evidence in a trial on the question whether an individual was trafficked or exploited.


The Court overturned the Divisional Court decision of DPP v M.