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Sanctions Update: UK enforcement, international regulator collaboration and further restrictive measures taken in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine
This update provides a brief overview of some notable events that have occurred in recent weeks, including the UK Government's increasing ability to target activities considered to be problematic from a circumventing Russian sanctions perspective.
The EU recently revealed its proposal for a new Regulation to combat the use of forced labour in the production of goods. A key aim of this new Regulation is that it will be used alongside other initiatives within both the EU and externally, in order to further eliminate modern day slavery from supply chains.
Release of the white elephant? Court of Appeal opens the door to £5bn multi-jurisdictional group litigation
On 8 July 2022, the Court of Appeal handed down its long-awaited judgment in the Municipio De Mariana group litigation claim, granting permission for some 200,000 Brazilian claimants to pursue in the UK their group action for damages caused by the collapse of the Fundão Dam in Brazil in 2015.
Our ESG timeline sets out recent and expected UK and EU legal and regulatory developments relating to ESG and wider sustainable business topics. The timeline can be filtered according to your business type or the relevant ESG theme.
There is a growing trend amongst activists and claimant law firms to pursue novel causes of action against companies for acts or omissions that, while not directly attributable to them, are said to result in alleged human rights breaches in their value chains.
The EU continues to beat a path to a more sustainable future. Nothing too new there, perhaps, but it is increasingly determined to bring the rest of the world along with it. It first proposed a directive on corporate sustainability reporting ("CSRD") in February 2021, which when proposed caused a stir for the significant expansion of non-financial information obligations on non-listed corporates.
Further to our previous article here, the SFO has now secured a conviction against Glencore on seven counts of international bribery. The successful prosecution makes Glencore the first company to admit to bribing a person under the Bribery Act and is the SFO’s third corporate conviction under these rules.
Sanctions Update: UK's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation sets out new enforcement guidance in advance of enhanced powers coming into force
On 15 March 2022, the UK's new Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act (the "ECA") received Royal Assent. The legislation contained a number of important provisions, including the introduction of a new 'Register of Overseas Entities' and reforms to unexplained wealth orders.
Glencore has indicated that it will plead guilty to seven counts of bribery in connection with its oil operations in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and South Sudan. The Serious Fraud Office opened its investigation into Glencore's activities in 2019 and alleges that the commodities giant approved the payment of over $25m in bribes for preferential access to oil.
The Queen's speech delivered on 10 May 2022 announced the intention of strengthening the protection and support for victims of human trafficking and modern slavery as well as increasing the accountability of organisations in driving out modern slavery from their supply chains through the implementation of a Modern Slavery Bill (the "MSA Bill").
ESG and sustainability issues continue to be a priority for policy makers and regulators globally. The impact of the Ukraine conflict on energy policy and the recent publication of the IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) "state of the union" report on the slender window we have to take action in order to meet our climate targets both highlight the scale of the global challenge we face on climate issues.
Sanctions Update: Further measures taken by UK, EU and US in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including the UK's new Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act
On 15 March 2022, the UK's new Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act (the "ECA") received Royal Assent. The legislation contains a number of important provisions, including the introduction of a new 'Register of Overseas Entities' and reforms to unexplained wealth orders.
The European Commission recently unveiled its long-awaited proposal for a directive on corporate sustainability due diligence, which is designed to tackle human rights and environmental impacts across value chains (the "CSDD").
Sanctions Update: Further measures taken by UK, EU and US in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Early on the morning of 24 February 2022, the Russian military invaded Ukraine. The full scope of the Russian military operation continues to remain unclear.
Sanctions Update: UK, US and EU set to impose further and more significant sanctions on Russia following 'full-scale invasion' of Ukraine on 24 February 2022
Early on the morning of 24 February 2022, the Russian military launched a broad military offensive targeting Ukraine. The full scope of the Russian military operation is not immediately clear.
Sanctions Update: UK, US and EU set to impose first round of new sanctions on Russia in response to escalation of Ukrainian crisis, while Germany blocks Nord Stream 2 certification
During the build-up of Russian military forces on the borders of Ukraine over the course of recent months, the UK and other countries have issued firm statements that any further incursion by Russia into Ukraine would result in additional economic sanctions on Russian entities and individuals. Today, following Russia's recognition of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine as independent (and the corresponding movement of Russian forces into these regions), a number of new sanctions and other restrictions have been imposed – with further measures likely to follow depending on Russia's actions over the coming days and weeks.
The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre recently produced a report calling into question the quality and utility of the now ubiquitous social audit reporting (Social Audit Liability: Hard Law Strategies to Redress Weak Social Assurances) (the "Report").
The UK's Corporate Justice Coalition ("CJC"), an organisation made up of various UK and international Civil Society Organisations ("CSOs") including Anti-Slavery International, Friends of the Earth and Business Human Rights Resource Centre has recently recommended the implementation of a potentially wide-reaching corporate "failure to prevent" regime targeting negative human rights and environmental impacts. Such a regime would track similar EU proposals relating to the diligence of 'value chains' for ESG failings and malpractice.