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UNGPs in Legal Practice Roundtable Series:Voluntary commitments and legal risk: trends in soft and hard law

Event Details

Time: 14:00-16:00 (Registration open from 13:30)

Venue: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5JP

Companies which openly disclose steps taken to respect human rights in their operations and business relationships may either expose themselves to legal risk in doing so, or demonstrate due diligence which protects the company against legal risk. As one interviewee in BIICL's research indicated: "there is a move away from the past concerns that more reporting leads to more liabilities, with their legal counsel being keen for more transparency of their human rights processes."

As soft law standards are becoming industry standards, failure to voluntarily commit to the respect for human rights itself exposes a company to risk. As these standards begin to emerge in regulatory frameworks and thereby harden, this risk may translate into legal liability.

For the first our UNGPs in Legal Practice Roundtable Series thematic discussions, we will consider developments around voluntary commitments and examples of soft law standards that are translating into hard law, including:

  • whether the hardening of standards can be used constructively by companies, as leverage, internally and externally;
  • how soft law concepts may be translated into an operational standard of conduct;
  • how the adoption of soft law standards and implementation of HRDD can shift from risk exposure to risk mitigation; and
  • the extent to which this debate will become redundant once soft law standards become hard law.


  • Stéphane Brabant, Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Robin Brooks, Senior Consultant, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Elsa Savourey, Avocat, Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Suzanne Spears, Partner, Volterra Fietta


This is a a closed event, open to members of the BIICL UNGPs in Legal Practice Roundtable Series only.


If you have any queries, please contact the Events team.

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