Philippa Southwell

Practice & Background

Philippa is head of the human trafficking and modern slavery department at Birds Solicitors. Philippa is also Managing Director of the Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery Expert Directory. She is a published author and co-author of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Law and Practice (Bloomsbury 1st and 2nd Edition), Co Author of “Does the new Slavery Defence Offer Victims any Greater Protection”(Archbold Review 9th November 2015 issue 9).

Philippa is also Managing Director of Southwell & Partners. She was called to the bar of England and Wales in 2009 as a Barrister, having cross qualified she practices as a Solicitor Advocate.

Philippa is an award-winning and internationally recognised lawyer in the field of modern slavery law. She lectures extensively both domestically, throughout the Middle East and Europe. She was called to give evidence as a legal expert in the Home Affairs Committee Modern Slavery Inquiry, she provided both oral and written evidence during the inquiry.

Philippa has a very busy criminal practice which encompasses a whole spectrum of serious criminal work, including violent and sexual offences, false imprisonment, kidnap, robbery, drugs, fraud, murder, firearms, corruption, human trafficking and modern slavery cases

Philippa advises companies on modern slavery and human rights due diligence and provides training to both the private and

public sector. Philippa regularly lectures on all many aspects of modern slavery law, compliance, forced criminality and child criminal exploitation and has been invited as guest lecturer at numerous Universities.

Philippa drafted the Law Society practice notes on human trafficking and was advisor to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in relation to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015. Philippa has acted in most of the significant and leading cases involving victims of modern slavery and forced criminality of the last decade, including R v L & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 991 and representing five of the six applicants in the specially convened victims of trafficking court before the Lord Chief Justice R v VSJ et all [2017] EWCA Crim 36. She has acted at all levels, representing the interests of victims of trafficking, including during police station investigation stage, as well as in the Magistrates Court, Crown Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.

Philippa also represents victims of human trafficking in statutory compensation claims via the Miscarriage of Justice Application Scheme. Where victims have been wrongly convicted and punished pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act 1988. She secured the first landmark compensation in 2017 for a victim of trafficking under this scheme.

Philippa has a particular interest in child criminal exploitation and regularly defends both British and foreign national children prosecuted for forced criminality offences, she was one of the first lawyers in the country to raise a s45 Modern Slavery Defence. She is regularly instructed on county lines exploitation cases.

She also has a large appellate case load and regularly advises on appeals against conviction and sentence in relation to applications to both the Court of Appeal and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. She was highly commended in the Law Society Excellence Awards for her modern slavery work and is re cognised by the Law Society as the leading lawyer in this field.

They have described her as ‘a fierce criminal defence solicitor, who specialises in defending and representing victims of human trafficking who have been prosecuted for criminal offences. She is a leading criminal solicitor in this field’.

Philippa sits on various advisory boards; she is advisory member for working group on Children and Young People in the Justice System for the Inns of Court College of Advocacy Grays Inn. She is advisory member of the Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s

Court Steering Group- for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and child victims of human trafficking. She is also an advisory board member for Tackling Child Exploitation and board member of the Criminal Appeals Lawyers Association.

Philippa has provided data, legal commentary and recommendations for numerous reports and publications including publications for Bloomsbury, Archbold and LexisNexis.

Philippa is also involved in international criminal law work, involving war crimes and child soldiers and is on the List of Assistants to Counsel at the International Criminal Court.

Philippa is regularly consulted by many of the world’s leading media organisations for legal commentary on human rights and modern slavery law. She has also appeared in numerous documentaries and news channels.

Notable and leading modern slavery cases

  • R v HTP [2016] EWCA Crim 1959
  • R v VSJ and Others [2017] EWCA Crim 36
  • R v N [2019] EWCA Crim 191
  • R v H [2018] EWCA Crim 2678
  • R v L [2013] EWCA Crim 991 (THN)
  • R v JXP [2019] EWCA Crim 1280
  • R v N, R v L [2017] EWCA Crim 2129
  • R v VSJ and Others [2017] EWCA Crim 36
  • R v Y [2015] EWCA Crim 123
  • R v N, R v L [2017] EWCA Crim 2129
  • R v D [2018] EWCA Crim 2995
  • R v N & O [2019] EWCA Crim 752
  • R v N [2019] EWCA Crim 984
  • R v O [2019] EWCA Crim 1389
  • R v T(N) EWCA Crim 1569
  • R v V(T) [2019] EWCA Crim 1223

A more detailed biography including a list of the significant and reported cases that she has been involved with, her publications, lectures and media appearances is contained in the full biography which can be downloaded from this page of the website.

Full Biography (PDF)