Editor's note: 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
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.
Revised Draft of Treaty on Human Rights
and TNCs has been published
The Revised Draft has been released here by the
Permanent Mission of Ecuador. The Draft comes ahead of the intergovernmental
negotiations to be held at the 5th session of Open-Ended Intergovernmental
Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with
respect to human rights (OEIGWG). For further comment and context, see Larry
Catá Backer's blog, the BHRRC's debate the treaty section on the revised draft, as well as the BHRJ Blog's series on the revised draft.
Roundtable redefined the group’s Purpose of a
A prominent group of business
leaders has redefined its purpose of a corporation to include stakeholder
interests. In a statement signed by 181 CEO members of the Business Roundtable,
an American group of business leaders, the statement of “the purpose of a corporation” has been altered from the
long-standing commitment to shareholder primacy, to a broader ‘Commitment to All Stakeholders’. The change was
announced in an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal and signed by 181
members, including the business leaders of Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of
America, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Morgan Stanley, UPS, and Walmart.
Chairman of Business Roundtable and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, explained
in the release: “The American dream is alive, but fraying. Major employers are
investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way
to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the
business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy
that serves all Americans.”
This reconceptualisation of the purpose of
corporations has been met with cautious enthusiasm; however, the statement has
no bearing on the legal obligations of the signatories, and whether this
materially alters business conduct by the signatories’ companies is yet to be
The ‘Business Roundtable
Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’ can be found here.
UK Supreme Court to hear
Okpabi case against Shell
The Supreme Court has granted permission for
Nigerian communities to appeal their case concerning environmental degradation
against Royal Dutch Shell. Previously the Court of Appeals rejected
jurisdiction for the claimants, however the Court’s reasoning was fundamentally
undermined by the subsequent Supreme Court judgement in Vedanta.
See our previous post here concerning
how these cases are related, and how Vedanta has
paved the way for jurisdiction to be found in the Okpabi
case. See the statement by Leigh Day, working with the appellants, here.
In another case concerning the liability of a
UK parent company for harms perpetrated abroad by a subsidiary that hinged on
jurisdiction, the Supreme Court refused permission in AAA v
Unilever PLC for Unilever subsidiary employees to appeal. Leigh Day
have announced they will now move to file cases with the UN Working Group and
Samsung France indicted for deceptive commercial practices for not abiding by CSR
NGOs Sherpa and ActionAid France have successfully obtained an indictment against Samsung France for deceptive commercial practices.
Preliminary charges were lodged in April by a Paris investigating magistrate in
the first French case in which ethical commitments have been recognised as
likely to constitute commercial practice.
The organisations argue that public ethical
commitments by Samsung to workers' rights were misleading, citing alleged
labour abuses and child labour in factories in China, South Korea and Vietnam.
The case represents a novel approach to litigating extraterritorial business
human rights abuses; even in the aforementioned Vedanta
case in the UK, there was a similar (brief) suggestion that CSR-style public
commitments could be actionable.
Guatemalan shooting victims
announce settlement with Pan American Silver in Canada
It has been announced that landmark 2017
Canadian case Garcia v. Tahoe Resources has been resolved between the parties. The case concerned remedy for 2013 shooting of protesters by Tahoe Resources mine security on April 27, 2013
outside Tahoe’s Escobal Mine in south-east Guatemala. The resolution included a
public apology from Pan American Silver, who acquired Tahoe Resources earlier
this year, while other terms of the settlement remain confidential. Settlements were reached with three of the claimants earlier, but
the remaining four only settled on 30 July when PAS issued a public apology and
acknowledgement of the violation of their human rights by Tahoe.
In 2017, the BC Court of
Appeal confirmed jurisdiction over the case in Canada, finding that the “highly
politicized environment” surrounding the mine meant that there was a “real risk” that the plaintiffs would not obtain justice in Guatemala,
permitting the claimants to use the Canadian forum. The head of security for
the mine is also facing criminal proceedings in Guatemala.
Remedy being reached has led to celebration
from commentators, however no further legal precedent has been set than that
from the 2017 appeal, so it might have limited value for future claimants. It has been surmised that settlement was reached because of the overwhelming evidence in
the case: video footage from security cameras showed protestors being shot in
the back as they fled the mine site.
See also: The Guardian
– Brazilian mining company to pay out £86m for disaster that
killed almost 300 people and San Francisco Chronicle – Suit alleging US chocolate makers collaborated in slave
labor proceeds for US developments.