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In Conversation with Caroline Haughey

Caroline is a barrister who prosecutes and defends across a wide variety of the most serious and high profile criminal cases. Caroline said it was ‘something of a fluke’ that she ended up prosecuting on the first modern slavery case in Britain, in April 2011. Since then, she has played a major role in drafting anti-slavery legislation in the UK, as well as prosecuting on many cases. She helped develop the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and was asked by Theresa May to complete an independent review into the effectiveness of the act a year on. She currently sits on the Modern Slavery Task Force, which is chaired by the Prime Minister.

In November 2017 she joined Jo Rickards in conversation as part of our Women in Law series.

Mishcon Academy
Women in Law: Caroline Haughey, Furnival Chambers

I chose to come over to England; I’d been educated over here.  I came back to Ireland and did my law degree at Trinity with some brilliant lecturers and then came back to England and lectured as well as training to be a barrister.  That was always my passion and my fascination.  And I remember trying to enhance my CV and I wrote that I had a black belt twelfth dan in verbal combat and so which made everyone go ‘oh, what’s verbal combat?’ and I said, ‘well, I’m from Northern Ireland, it’s something we do at the kitchen table every day’.

Having done lots of mini pupillages, tried European law, corporate law, err family and so forth but every single time I went back to crime, I love the human story.  Why do people do what they do?  And my job allows me to ask the questions that no one else can.  I think I’ve just been fascinated by the investigative process and how you end up with a dead body to someone going to jail for life.  Law being more than going to court, the law being about the human beings behind the story and why the law gets to where it is, the law being a living instrument.

In an exploitation case, often my victims are so broken, so damaged, that they are unable to voice what has happened to them or they are so damaged and broken that they still do not perceive themselves as victims and that’s a very common problem and its inquisitiveness, looking for an answer that often triggers how these cases evolve. They are often intelligence led, they are very difficult and often you are prosecuting with the fact of something not happening rather than happening. So, the fact that someone doesn’t exist in society is proof of their exploitation as much as having physical evidence of them being exploited, and it’s very challenging to gather those facts together and then present them to a jury, to present them to society because that’s what juries are, and to get juries to buy that concept.

In November 2017, Caroline Haughey joined Jo Rickards in conversation as part of our Women in Law series.