“The responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights applies to all enterprises regardless of their size, sector, operational context, ownership and structure.” (UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, IIA.14). Addressing such issues is now recognised as a core part of corporate compliance and accountability.
New legislation - such as the UK's Modern Slavery Act and non-financial reporting regulations - has also entered the legal landscape and is designed to drive increased transparency at a group level. Additionally, the courts in the UK seem increasingly willing to hold global organisations liable for ethics breaches by overseas subsidiaries. Responding appropriately to these legal developments amidst new social dynamics is key to successfully managing a company's brand, investor relations, access to finance and litigation minimisation.
Our clients can expect and depend on advice from lawyers at the top of their fields, who combine an intimate knowledge of human rights and ethics laws with a genuine understanding of corporate structures and governance. Working in collaboration with human rights and public relations experts, we provide a holistic service.
The range of our work includes advising a wide variety of businesses, including retailers, manufacturers, private equity houses and banks on:
- modern slavery and human trafficking issues
- impacts on global supply chain risk management
- major alleged human rights violations and investigations, including in relation to overseas operations
- supplier codes of conduct and human rights policies and procedures (including in relation to whistleblowing)
- regulatory due diligence and voluntary corporate commitments.
Our corporate governance team also focuses on governance regulation and best practice guidance for listed companies in the context of human rights and ethics obligations, including advising on corporate culture, directors' duties, management of board level responsibilities and activist shareholders.