During 2019, calls for mandatory human rights due diligence laws multiplied across Europe, and businesses are increasingly supporting the introduction of such regulation. Reasons cited include the need for a level playing field, lack of legal certainty and a non-negotiable standard to facilitate leverage with third parties in the value chain.
Two new studies by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) consider how regulation might work within the EU and UK legal contexts respectively.
The report entitled A UK Failure to Prevent Mechanism for Corporate Human Rights Harms considers the legal feasibility of introducing into UK law a corporate duty to prevent human rights harms. The report was co-authored by BIICL and legal experts from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. It follows the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights' proposal to model such a provision on the "failure to prevent" mechanism of the UK Bribery Act. The analysis includes the findings from a business survey on companies' views of the current legal landscape, the potential benefits of such a regulation for business, and respondents' experiences with the Bribery Act.
The study for the European Commission on Due Diligence Requirements through the Supply Chain considers regulatory options for possible mandatory due diligence requirements at EU level. It set out four components: 1) market practices, based on findings from over 630 survey respondents, 50 interviews and 10 case studies; 2) a regulatory review of the existing legal framework at Member State and EU level, including twelve in-depth country reports; 3) regulatory options, including sub-options relating to limitations by company size, sector, and enforcement methods; and 4) a preliminary assessment of the impacts of regulatory options, undertaken by economists at LSE Consulting.
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