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Category Archives: Business and Human Rights

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The Business and Human Rights landscape is shifting – be part of the conversation

The European Commission has opened an important new consultation. It asks about the possibility of introducing a mandatory duty for all companies operating in the EU to conduct human rights and environmental due diligence across their supply and/or value chains. The duty would be enforced either by national governments or through national courts. A new

EU adopts a global human rights sanctions regime

On 7 December 2020, the EU adopted a global human rights sanctions regime. No individuals have been designated yet. Going forward, this means that companies should ensure that they conduct sanctions screening on all counterparties and business partners against the EU asset freeze list, even if those third parties are not located in a country

Switzerland: Responsible business initiative narrowly rejected despite gaining 50.7% of popular vote

The public referendum which took place on 29 November 2020 in Switzerland (see here  for further background information) rejected the proposed Responsible Business Initiative despite gaining 50.7% of the popular vote on 29 November 2020. Due diligence obligation and liability for Swiss-based companies Launched in April 2015 by a coalition of Swiss civil society organisations, the Responsible

Switzerland: a public referendum on human rights due diligence for Swiss-based companies

As expected, a public referendum as regards the Responsible Business Initiative (“RBI”) – i.e. a proposal launched in April 2015 by a coalition of Swiss civil society organisations on mandatory human rights due diligence for Swiss-based companies – will take place on 29 November 2020. Due diligence obligation and liability for Swiss-based companies The RBI

The EU Commission’s study on options to regulate directors’ duties and corporate governance

The EU Commission recently published a study on options to regulate directors’ duties and corporate governance which argues that short-termism reduces long-term sustainability of European businesses. The purpose of such study is to contribute in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) adopted in 2015 and the objectives defined by the Paris Agreement on

Ongoing discussions at UN level on a draft international treaty binding businesses on Human Rights related due diligence and obligations: Major changes introduced by the Second Revised Draft

The Second Revised Draft of the legally binding instrument on business and human rights was released in August 2020 by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to Human Rights (OEIGWG). It is a step forward before the adoption of a UN Legally Binding Instrument

UN Working Group publishes revised draft of business and human rights treaty: commentary on scope, prevention and legal liability

On 16 July, a UN working group published a revised draft of its business and human rights treaty (following the “Zero” Draft published in July last year). Our post looks at some of the key developments, with a particular focus on its scope and the provisions on prevention and legal liability. We conclude by asking

Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Law

The Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence bill (the “Law“) was passed in both houses of parliament and is due to be implemented by royal ratification after 1 January 2020. The aim of the Law is to put more responsibility on companies to prevent goods and services which have come into existence through child labour to

The French “PACTE” Law: Growing Space for Social and Environmental Topics in Corporate Management of French Companies

Under the new law on Business Growth and Transformation (the so-called “PACTE Law”), the management of French companies must take into consideration social and environmental issues. Companies are also encouraged to incorporate social objectives into their corporate purpose. This blog looks at the new law and what it means for businesses. On 11 April 2019,

New Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence

On 8 April 2019, the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI (“HLEG AI“) published its ethics guidelines for trustworthy artificial intelligence (the “Guidelines“). The Guidelines follow an earlier first draft in December 2018 and implement more than 500 comments received through an open consultation. The Guidelines aim to provide a framework for achieving “Trustworthy

The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise – Lingering Questions on the Role’s Mandate and Powers

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced the appointment of Sheri Meyerhoffer as the first Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (“CORE”). The position has been lauded as being the first of its kind in the world. This blog post considers a number of the key issues which are still to be ironed out before Ombudsperson

Vedanta: UK Supreme Court takes the “straitjacket” off claims against parent companies in the English Courts

On 10 April 2019, the UK Supreme Court handed down its judgment in Vedanta Resources PLC and anor. v Lungowe and others [2019] UKSC 20; a long awaited decision on parent company liability and the jurisdiction of English courts over transnational torts. This blog sets out the key findings and practical implications of the judgment,

Jabir and others v. KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH – Dortmund court dismisses lawsuit

Yesterday, the Regional Court (Landgericht) of Dortmund dismissed the claims in Jabir and others v. KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH (Case No. 7 O 95/15) based on the statute of limitations.  The case concerned claims for personal injury and death brought by four Pakistani nationals against German retailer KiK Textilien and Non-Food GmbH (“KiK”) in

Supply chain liability under the law of negligence: What does Jabir and Others v KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH mean for European companies with supply chains in the sub-continent and other common law countries?

Last month a court in Dortmund heard arguments in Jabir and others v. KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH.  It is a case brought against a German retailer, under English law principles of tort in relation to a fire at the factory of a supplier in Pakistan.  This post explains what the case is about and

The Australian Modern Slavery Bill: the next frontier in corporate accountability for adverse human rights impacts

Last week, the Australian Parliament approved the Modern Slavery Bill and it is set to come into force early in 2019.  This post looks at the requirements of the Act, how it compares to the UK Modern Slavery Act and what it tells us about the changing legal landscape for business and human rights.

“Specific Instances” under OECD Guidelines – What can financial institutions learn from the recent ANZ case on providing finance to a company engaged in human rights abuses

The Australian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“AusNCP”), which handles “specific instances” relating to alleged non-observance of the Guidelines, has released its final statement (https://cdn.tspace.gov.au/uploads/sites/112/2018/10/11_AusNCP_Final_Statement.pdf) on a case concerning the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s (“ANZ”) financing of a Cambodian company engaged in human rights abuses. In 2011, ANZ

Working up from Zero: Initial Negotiations on the “Zero Draft” treaty on Business and Human Rights

The UN intergovernmental working group tasked with developing a binding international treaty on business and human rights recently concluded its fourth round of negotiations in Geneva (15-19 October 2018). In contrast to the third session, where the “Elements” of the proposed treaty were published only three weeks before the working session began, delegations were provided

Blockchain: A new frontier in supply chain management

The concept of human rights due diligence is at the heart of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UNGPs“) and is finding its way into a growing body of legislation around the world: see the French Duty of Vigilance Law, the supply chain transparency provisions of the UK Modern Slavery Act (and

Parent company liability – Court of Appeal upholds decision rejecting jurisdiction over claims brought against Unilever by victims of post-election violence in Kenya

On 4 July 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in AAA & Ors. v Unilever PLC and Unilever Tea Kenya Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 1532, dismissing an appeal by victims of the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya.  It is the latest in a series of recent judgments on jurisdiction over parent company liability

Australia set to join the global fight against modern slavery

The world is slowly taking action against modern slavery. Since the UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act (“the UK Act“) in 2015, a number of countries have followed suit with their own legislative initiatives. The latest country poised to do so is Australia. In 2017, the joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

Hogan Lovells launches Practical Guide on Respecting Human Rights in the Energy and Natural Resources Sector at industry event in Johannesburg

How does the responsibility to respect human rights apply to companies operating in the Energy and Natural Resources Sector?  How does this relate to hard legal risk at a domestic and international level and, what practical steps should a business take to fulfil this responsibility and reduce its legal risk? This morning, we had the