Non-Compliance with Human Rights Obligations Poses New Legal Risks for UK Companies

An overview of recent developments in UK law regarding business and human rights -

The UK government has launched a new action plan on business and human rights that is designed to implement the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The plan outlines concrete legal obligations for UK companies, including a new requirement that UK companies include information on human rights in their annual strategic reports, and refers to potential new sanctions for companies that fail to comply with certain human rights standards.

Introduction -

Businesses are coming under increased scrutiny to ensure compliance with basic human rights commitments. Companies in the extractive industries or that rely on imports from low-wage economies need to pay particular attention to these developments. For example, major mining projects may interfere with local communities’ access to water or even involve the displacement of indigenous peoples. Likewise, UK businesses that rely on imports manufactured in countries where workers may not enjoy basic rights will need to be vigilant to observe new legal obligations regarding compliance with human rights standards.

The purpose of this alert is to summarise recent developments in UK law regarding business and human rights. The requirement that businesses takesteps to ensure respect for human rights is no longer simply a matter of good governance and “soft” law. Companies involved in international businesses must comply with newly developed binding legal obligations. Failure to do so may result in legal sanctions, public criticism by an official body and reputational damage, which may have far-reaching commercial consequences.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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