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New report on Access to Remedies and the UK National Action Plan on Business & Human Rights

BIICL Director, Professor Robert McCorquodale, was commissioned in April 2015 by the UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to provide a report which surveys and analyses the current State-based judicial and non-judicial mechanisms available in the UK to enable access to a remedy for victims of human rights abuses by business enterprises, whether the abuses occur in the UK or overseas. In identifying the remedies available, and the legislative and institutional framework enabling them, consideration was to be given to the barriers to accessing remedies. The overall aim of the report is to inform the review process of the UK's National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, published in September 2013.

In order to undertake this research, the methodology employed was a combination of desk-based research and discussion based interviews. The desk-based research included reviewing the research literature, publications and also materials on websites, and email enquiries to experts, including in the non-governmental, private and public sectors. Interviews were conducted with specialists at BIS, FCO, Ministry of Justice and the Trade Unions Council, and with legal practitioners and other experts with knowledge of the remedies in this area. These interviews were semi-structured, with questions to find out how the processes and procedures of various possible remedies operated in practice, and enabling the interviewees to expand on their comments as they wished. The extent of the work involved in the conducting of the interviews, and the follow-up required to clarify issues that arose and to ensure that the government departments involved could respond to the drafts, meant that the survey took slightly longer than the one month that had been requested to complete it. It was completed in mid-July 2015.

The Report noted that there are a range of State-based judicial and non-judicial mechanisms in the UK that could be relevant for claims of an abuse of human rights by a business enterprise occurring in the UK or overseas. In considering the access to a remedy, the legal obligation on a State is to provide a remedy to the victim of the human rights abuse. A fine or other sanction against a business enterprise without any guarantee of non-repetition or without any reparation to the victim is not a remedy for these purposes. Barriers to accessing a remedy can be legal, social, financial, practical or procedural.

The Report concluded that the current access to a remedy in the UK for these types of claims is limited, with most of the non-judicial mechanisms unable to provide a remedy at all to the victims. Further, victims of such abuses, particularly abuses taking place overseas, face significant barriers.

You can access the report here



For further information about this report please contact Institute Director, Professor Robert McCorquodale


  1. The British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) is one of the leading independent research centres for international and comparative law in the world. Founded in 1958, BIICL provides informed, independent and practical legal ideas for a global community. Its high quality and respected work involves analysis and debate about contemporary issues on every continent, from its base in the heart of London's energetic and multicultural legal network. BIICL undertakes five key activities: applied legal research; events and discussions; capacity-building training; world-leading publications; and fosters a diverse community of scholars and practitioners through its membership offer. (Registered Charity No. 209425. Company Registration 615025).
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