As developments around mandatory human rights due diligence laws are taking place rapidly across Europe, this report considers the legal feasibility of introducing into UK law a corporate duty to prevent human rights harms.
In 2010, the UK Bribery Act introduced an offence if a company fails to prevent bribery. In 2017, the UK Joint Committee on Human Rights proposed that this model could be used for corporate human rights abuses.
The report considers whether and how the legal elements of section 7 of the Bribery Act could be transposed into a failure to prevent human rights harms, and propose a model legal provision which addresses the following issues:
- Which rights should be covered and to which companies should the mechanism apply?
- What type of duty and liability should the mechanism establish? Should it establish a defence?
- Should the mechanism apply extraterritorially?
- How and by which body should it be enforced?
The report also sets out the results of a business survey, which includes findings on the potential benefits of such regulation, and respondents' experiences with the Bribery Act.
The study sets out a model legal provision based on the analysis.
BIICL is grateful for the support of Hogan Lovells and Quinn Emanuel in undertaking this project.