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Company Response

30 Apr 2018

Unilever Group

Response by Unilever Group


The Unilever Group Human Rights Policy Statement (available online here) describes our commitment to respect universal principles, our due diligence processes and our governance. Defending our legitimate legal rights where we believe we are correct to do so in no way diminishes these commitments. However, as this matter is before the courts, and for the security reasons set out below, we can’t respond in detail. Nevertheless, we wish to make several important observations:
• The letter contains material factual inaccuracies and allegations which are unsupported by the evidence.
• Current court proceedings are concerned principally at this stage with whether the English Courts have jurisdiction to hear the claims and there has been no ruling on the merits of the claim.
• After the first hearing in 2016, the High Court Judge ruled that the case should not be heard in the English Courts as the invasion of Unilever Tea Kenya was not foreseeable and that it was not fair, just or reasonable to impose a duty on Unilever PLC to anticipate and protect against a general breakdown of law and order or to ensure that the claimants were protected from the criminal acts of the invaders.
• The Claimants appeal against this decision was heard by the Court of Appeal in the week of 23rd April 2018 but the outcome will not be known for some time.
The long involvement in this matter of the NGOs who sent this letter means they should be aware that the Claimants who brought the case against Unilever submitted to the Court that any publicity could put them at risk and their identities are also protected by anonymity. Accordingly, Unilever has taken care to avoid any publicity and believes that drawing attention to the case via this letter, social media, and any ensuing press interest, is regrettable. We hope that all involved will respect the Claimants security concerns in the future.
Further information on Unilever’s approach to Human Rights is set out in a report available online here. This is a 2017 follow up to the ground breaking 2015 Unilever Human Rights report, which was the first ever such report published by a business to comprehensively use the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework. 

This is a response to

Unilever lawsuit (re ethnic violence in Kenya)

stories | Lawsuit 1 Jan 2015

Part of the following timelines

NGOs urge Unilever to redress harm to survivors of 2007 post-election attacks at tea plantation in Kenya; company responds

Unilever lawsuit (re ethnic violence in Kenya)