UK: Companies call for British due diligence law
'Companies call for British due diligence law', 22 October 2021
"Fashion companies Primark, ASOS and New Look are among 36 organisations which today issue a joint call on the British government to introduce mandatory due diligence legislation.
The coalition, which also includes Tesco, John Lewis and the British Retail Consortium, wants to see a law which would make companies legally liable for human rights and environmental issues in their global supply chains.
It comes as lawyers offered their legal opinion that fast fashion company Boohoo would have been liable for workers' rights issues in its Leicester supply chain had such legislation existed last year.
Other European countries, such as France, Germany and Norway, have recently introduced mandatory due diligence legislation while the European Union (EU) is drafting its own proposals which would apply across the single market.
The British coalition, which also includes NGOs, calls on the British government to "retain its leading role, rather than following the footsteps of others".
In a joint letter, they say: "We call for the UK government to urgently bring forward ambitious primary legislation to mandate companies to carry out human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD).
"To level the playing field, the requirement needs to be accompanied by consequences that will be strong enough to ensure that businesses that fall within the scope of the legislation carry out HREDD to a high standard and that victims have access to justice."...
... Meanwhile, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and the Corporate Justice Coalition, have commissioned legal opinion on whether Boohoo would have been liable under such legislation had it existed in the UK last year.
Some workers in Leicester garment factories supplying Boohoo were then said to be earning less than half of the minimum wage and working without coronavirus precautions...
...Now, Timothy Otty QC and Naina Patel, have provided their legal opinion that Boohoo could have been found liable for breaches under mandatory due diligence legislation had it been in force in the UK at the time."