Judge orders Kent-based traffickers to pay in excess of £1m to Lithuanian chicken catcher victims
09:29 21 December 2016
Kent-based Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge, who ran DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited in Linton, Maidstone, had subjected victims of human trafficking to severe labour exploitation
The first High Court claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery has ended with trafficked workers receiving substantial compensation.
The case brought by law firm Leigh Day alleged that Kent-based Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge, who ran DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited in Linton, Maidstone, had subjected victims of human trafficking to severe labour exploitation.
In June in London, Mr Justice Supperstone found in favour of six Lithuanian chicken catchers on key aspects of the case.
He said there was a failure to pay workers according to minimum wage requirements and to provide adequate facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink, and there had been unlawful deductions from wages.
It was reported that their workers, aged between 19 and 58, were paid depending on the number of chickens they caught, and that they were not paid extra for working at night or for time spent travelling to other farms.
The claimants also alleged they were harassed, assaulted and threatened by supervisors, housed in appalling conditions and kept in a constant state of uncertainty.
There was no admission of liability by the defendants.
On Tuesday, Leigh Day said the undisclosed compensation payable under the settlement plus a sum in legal costs amounted to more than £1 million.
Another 10 claims are likely to come to court next year.
Lawyer Shanta Martin said: “Our clients have faced enormous difficulties since they came to the UK thinking they would be earning a decent living for honest work, but found themselves being terribly exploited by a British business.
“They are so pleased to finally be getting not only wages they were owed, but a substantial sum to settle claims alleging physical and psychological abuse.”
She added: “We are extremely pleased to have achieved this result for our clients as it will go a huge way towards helping them rebuild their lives. The very large bill being faced by the defendants, for both the compensation and their defence costs, is also a salutary lesson to others who might seek to profit from modern slavery.”