BCL partner, Richard Reichman writes for City.AM discussing how ground-breaking claims for alleged environmental and human rights harms in the operations and supply chains of household name companies and a string of recent high-profile supply chain concerns highlight a gap in the UK’s regulatory regime and the risk of falling behind.
*Here is a short extract from the article. If you wish to read the full article, please visit City.AM website.
Shell is being taken to court over oil spills; the UK is trying to tighten transparency rules on Modern Slavery at the same time as they water down protections. Multinationals are set to fall into the gulf of laws keeping supply chains free of abuses and slavery, writes Richard Reichman.
Earlier this month, more than 11,000 Nigerian residents filed a claim at the High Court in London. Their fight was with Shell, the oil giant. Two communities of locals claim the multinational spilled oil and contaminated drinking water, harmed air quality and destroyed farmland and fishing stocks.
But the case is also a significant test of how far responsibility for multinationals reaches. There is also a separate claim against Shell’s board of directors, which alleges failure to manage climate change risks to the company. In the UK, there is a gap in laws governing the due diligence which must be done along supply chains.
Shell is not alone. Other recent high-profile supply chain problems include a rape in a Thailand factory supplying Tesco, allegations of labour abuses at a Malaysian supplier of Dyson and 1,700 instances of child labour in Tony’s Chocolonely’s supply chain. There has also been a significant, albeit unsuccessful, crowdfunded claim for judicial review by the World Uyghur Congress over the failure to commence a criminal investigation into imported cotton produced in Xinjiang under alleged forced labour conditions.
*This article was first published by City AM on 17 February 2023. If you wish to read the full article, please visit City AM website.