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Category Archives: Business and Human Rights

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Update on the responsibility to respect human rights and parent company liability: what the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another means for UK multinationals

In the last four months, the Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in two important cases relating to parent company liability and jurisdiction over extra-territorial human rights impacts.  In October, we wrote that the first of these cases (Lungowe and others v. Vedanta and KCM [2017] EWCA (Civ) 1528) created a “Catch 22” for

Canada steps up human rights oversight of companies operating abroad

Last week, Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), an independent officer who will be tasked with investigating allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporations operating abroad. The CORE’s predecessor, the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, required the permission of a company to investigate a complaint and

Forum non-conveniens and access to remedy in transnational business and human rights litigation: an update from Brexit Britain and a glance across the pond

What is forum non-conveniens? According to the principle of “forum non-conveniens” (or inconvenient forum), a court has the power to dismiss a civil action where an appropriate and more convenient alternative forum exists.  Variations of the principle exist in most common law jurisdictions, including England, Canada, the USA and Australia. In this post, we look

UK Modern Slavery Act – are tougher disclosure requirements on their way?

Disclosure requirements under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (‘MSA’) have pushed many businesses operating in the UK to gather and interrogate information about human rights risks across their operations and supply chains – but for some advocates of the MSA and campaigners, the new disclosure regime has fallen short. The shortcomings are addressed to

Switzerland: The next frontier for mandatory human rights due diligence?

Proposals are being considered to amend the Swiss constitution to require mandatory human rights due diligence for companies based in Switzerland. This post considers the contents of the amendment, its progress and what Swiss businesses can learn from the experience of their French counterparts in preparing for the “hardening” of the UN Guiding Principles. The

Hardening law, blockchain and managing multi-faceted international legal risk – key themes at this year’s UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

This week, the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva brought together representatives of business, government and civil society for three days of open, frank and constructive dialogue.  Three messages came across loud and clear – businesses in all jurisdictions should take note: (1) The direction of travel is towards hard law and

A binding treaty on business and human rights? Still a way to go.

Last week (23-27 October 2017), the third round of negotiations on a binding international treaty on business and human rights concluded.  In this post we consider what (if any) progress has been made and what the sticking points are. By way of background, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “UNGPs“) currently

Textile factory safety claims proceed to arbitration under the Bangladesh Accord

In a landmark ruling by an arbitration tribunal last month, claims against two global fashion brands under the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the “Bangladesh Accord“) were declared admissible and allowed to proceed to arbitration under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague (the “PCA“). The Bangladesh

Jurisdiction and parent company liability – Court of Appeal keeps door ajar for extra-territorial human rights related claims

The Court of Appeal has handed down its judgment in a landmark case on jurisdiction and parent company liability (Lungowe and Ors. v Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines Plc [2017] EWCA Civ 1528).  The judgment increases the likelihood that cases will be brought in the English courts against UK domiciled companies in relation

The responsibility to respect human rights in the banking sector

The question of how the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) should apply to the banking and financial services sector is one that is attracting increasing attention. Indeed, the dialogue has intensified in recent months between UN bodies responsible for interpreting and implementing the UNGPs and representatives of the financial community, including the Thun Group (an informal group of bank representatives focused on understanding the application of the UNGPs to the banking sector).

Arbitration: a new forum for business and human rights disputes?

As the international community turns its focus to the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – “Access to Effective Remedy” is the central theme of the upcoming 2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights – a working group of international law specialists has published a proposal to use arbitration to resolve disputes arising out of human rights abuses involving businesses (BHR disputes).