On 4 July 2018, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in AAA & Ors. v Unilever PLC and Unilever Tea Kenya Limited  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
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
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
In December 2017, our blog post discussed how a coalition of Swiss civil society organisations launched the Responsible Business Initiative (“RBI”), i.e. a proposal to amend the Swiss constitution to require mandatory human rights due diligence for companies based in Switzerland. While the RBI is still currently going through the Swiss legislative process, it seems
On 17 May 2018, an unprecedented round table took place to discuss the “French duty of vigilance and civil liability in human rights matters” at our Paris office. Alongside Julianne Hughes-Jennett, London Partner and Head of our Business and Human Rights group, this event gathered Horatia Muir Watt – Professor of international private law and
Following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury earlier this year, there were calls for the UK to adopt a British equivalent to the US Global Magnitsky Act, enabling the state to sanction gross human rights violations wherever or by whomever they are committed. This post considers the extent to which so-called “Magnitsky amendments”
On 16 April, proceedings were issued in the English courts against Gemfields Limited, a London-based mining company, in relation to allegations of human rights abuses in connection with the activities of its subsidiary in the vicinity of the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. This case comes hot on the heels of the English Court of
At last week’s IBA War and Justice Conference, ICC judge Howard Morrison said that international criminal law must develop to accommodate the changing nature of atrocities and the changing nature of conflict. One example is to prosecute the perpetrators of massive environmental damage, including damage connected to business activity. This is consistent with the ICC
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled in the case of Jesner v Arab Bank. On a 5:4 majority, the court ruled that foreign corporations are excluded from the scope of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). This highly-anticipated decision means that foreign corporations can no longer be sued under the ATS, but
On 27 March 2017, France went one step further than other countries by adopting “hard” law on human rights with the very broad Law on the “duty of vigilance of the parent companies and main contractor companies”. This statute is now into force and the first “vigilance plans” are being published as companies file their
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  EWCA (Civ) 1528) created a “Catch 22” for
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
It was a pleasure to speak in Geneva earlier this month at a consultation hosted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR“) on the scope for making businesses strictly liable for human rights abuses, and the role, if any, for human rights due diligence in that context. The consultations
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  EWCA Civ 1528). The judgment increases the likelihood that cases will be brought in the English courts against UK domiciled companies in relation
All eyes are once again on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) as it turns its attention to the application of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to companies accused of complicity in human rights violations committed abroad.
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).
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).
In Uganda, the business community, government and civil society groups are coming together to strengthen the protection of human rights. On Friday 18 August, we had the privilege of addressing a group of Ugandan business leaders on how to put into practice the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.