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12 Feb 2020

Initiative Lieferkettengesetz (unofficial summary translation by BHRRC)

German civil society campaign publishes legal opinion on possible mandatory human rights & environmental due diligence law

Note: This is an unofficial summary translation by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (attached). The full legal opinion is available here (in German).

The legal opinion of the “Initiative Lieferkettengesetz” shows how [the] key features which are essential to a supply chain law can be transposed into the German legal system:

- A supply chain law would [...] enshrine the principle of due diligence, commensurate with the severity of the (potential) human rights abuse and the company’s size. Companies will only be liable if they, on account of a lack of due care, cause or contribute to damages they could have otherwise foreseen and avoided.

- ...Extending the scope of tort as it relates to human rights is therefore necessary.

- Human and environmental damages are often closely linked. Environmental damages often also result in the abuse of ... human rights...

The “Initiative Lieferkettengesetz” places great importance on aligning a supply chain law with existing principles under German law... [An] effective supply chain law should also establish civil liability of companies before German courts. Without this, a supply chain law would be of little use to people affected by human rights abuse... This [opinion] also makes suggestions as to how provisions under public procurement law and foreign trade promotion can encourage observance of due diligence requirements.