Business Right – Monthly Report – May & June 2019
Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced
Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in
the Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and
human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business
respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice. Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global
Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB
from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser
Institute in The Hague. She has previously worked for International Justice
Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations
(SOMO) in Amsterdam.
This report compiles all relevant news, events
and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our
twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to
contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add
links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.
Dutch Court allows Case against Shell to
On 1 May the Hague District Court rules that it
has jurisdiction to hear a suit brought against the Royal Dutch Shell by four
Nigerian widows. The widows are still seeking redress for the killing of their
husbands in 1995 in Nigeria. They claim the defendants are accomplices in the
execution of their husbands by the Abasha regime. Allegedly, Shell and related
companies provided material support, which led to the arrests and deaths of the
activists. Although Shell denies wrongdoing in this case, the Court has allowed
the suit to proceed. The judgment is accessible in Dutch here. An English
translation is yet to be provided.
The Netherlands Adopts Child Labour Due
On 14 May the Dutch Government passed legislation
requiring certain companies to carry out due diligence related to child labour
in their supply chains. The law applies to companies that are either registered
in the Netherlands that sell or deliver goods or services to Dutch consumers or
that are registered overseas but sell or deliver goods or services to Dutch
consumers. These companies will have to submit a statement declaring that they
have due diligence procedures in place to prevent child labour from being used
in the production of their goods or services.
While it is not yet clear when the law will come
into force, it is unlikely to do so before 1 January 2020. The Dutch law is
part of the growing movement to embed human rights due diligence into national
legislative frameworks. The law is accessible in Dutch here.
First case under the French Due Diligence
law initiated against Total
French NGOs Amis de la Terre
FR and Survie have initiated civil proceedings against
French energy company Total for the planned Tilenga mining project in Uganda. These
organisations and CRED, Friends of the Earth Uganda and NAVODA have sent a
formal notice to Total in relation to concerns over the potential expropriation
of people in proximity to the site of the Tilenga project and threats to the
environment. Information on the case from the initiating civil society
organisations can be found here. This is the first initiated case under the new French Due
Diligence law, and may act as a test case for future litigation.
In a similar vein, civil society organisations CCFD-Terre Solidaire and
Sherpa have launched Le Radar du Devoir
de Vigilance [The Vigilance Duty Radar], a resource to track the compliance of French companies to the law.
The site lists potentially subjected companies, and their published vigilance plans
(or lack thereof).
Bolstering the UK Modern Slavery Act
During a speech at the International Labour Organisation’s centenary conference on 11 June 2019, Theresa May outlined the UK
Government’s further commitments to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act 2015;
these included a central public registry of modern slavery transparency
statements by businesses (in a similar vein to the Gender
Pay Gap Service), and the extension
of reporting requirements to the public sector. Individual ministerial
departments will be obliged to publish modern slavery statements from 2021,
while central Government has committed to
publish voluntarily this year. The focus on public sector procurement will
apparently also include a “new programme that will improve responsible
recruitment in parts of our public sector supply chains that pass through
The Final Report of the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery
Act 2015 was released in May, and
considered in Westminster Hall on 19th June. More...