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28 Nov 2017

Paul Bowden, Julie Chapuy, Jess Steele & Michael Quayle, Business and Human Rights Journal

Commentary: France & UK: Exploring current patterns & future developments in corporate due diligence law

"Business and Human Rights: Prevailing Trends and Future Developments", 28 Nov 2017

Adoption of national legislation in France scrutinizing corporate efforts through mandated disclosure regimes and requiring companies to establish and implement vigilance plans constituted a watershed moment in business and human rights law. In the UK, the [...] Government’s current focus appears to be promoting best practices in companies’ Modern Slavery Act disclosures. Here we explore current patterns and possible, future developments in both countries...

Developments in the imposition of corporate duties of due diligence in the field of human rights in the UK and in France are at different stages. France has unveiled a wide-ranging new duty of vigilance, albeit with questions around its enforcement in the absence of a civil fine mechanism. The UK has, by contrast, focused on fine-tuning its published guidance on the interpretation of established legislation which, while it requires companies to make statements regarding their human rights due diligence, does not require companies to carry out that due diligence. What is clear is the continuing interest of legislatures and governments in encouraging companies to think more carefully about their impact on human rights, not only directly but also through their subsidiaries, affiliates and supply chains.