Business and human rights

Respecting human rights is an increasingly important and necessary element to achieve sustainable business success. Our multi-disciplinary team can support you and your business to grow responsibly and navigate this increasingly complex area of law.

With the increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and responsible business practices, business and human rights (BHR) is a key consideration for successful individuals, families, businesses and charities.

What you need to know

There has never been a more important time to ensure that you, and your business, are preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights.

Following the 2011 publication of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, several countries have introduced mandatory legal (reporting) requirements or regulatory standards businesses have to meet, for example the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 or the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law , with further legislation on the horizon.

Simultaneously, national courts have seen a considerable increase in the number of high-profile human rights-related cases brought against companies, often in respect of human rights violations connected with their overseas subsidiaries and supply chains. The financial and reputational costs to a company, and its management, embroiled in such litigation is often significant.

Achieving sustainable success

Whether you are a multinational corporation, international investor, family office or charity, our specialist team can help you to navigate this increasingly complex area of law and provide integrated advice to address ESG and BHR risks and issues.

Planning ahead is vital when managing your BHR strategy. We can help you develop your corporate policy and governance landscape, assist with regulatory compliance and due diligence globally and also conduct BHR Impact Assessments, supply chain risk management and develop BHR grievance mechanisms, to ensure you are compliant with the law. We also have specialist experience advising States and Governments on their international obligations, as well as creating and implementing national action plans and developing human rights legislation.

We provide strategic advice on managing BHR and ESG litigation and liability risks. If you find yourself involved in a dispute, we offer tailored solutions to reach resolution and represent your company in litigation and arbitrations should the dispute become contentious. This can have a significant impact on your business’ reputation but our experts will help you mitigate reputational risk and manage the outcome.

Finally, if you are an investor, fund or financial institution looking for advice on impact or sustainable investments, our global experts can help you assess available options and find the right solution to suit your personal and professional goals.

Whatever your objectives, we will work with you at any stage of operations to implement your human rights responsibilities and help achieve sustainable success.

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Senior associate Camilla Gambarini is an outstanding attorney, who in addition to her legal skills, brings Spanish fluency that is vital for our work in Latin America. In addition, she has deep knowledge of human rights law, and is able to grasp quickly the concepts and principles that we need to convey.

Legal 500, 2022
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Hussein Haeri is a superstar intellect, who has been rewarded with some of the most interesting PIL briefs in London.

Legal 500, 2022
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The Withers team comprises outstanding attorneys who have deep knowledge of human rights law, and the work across several regions is consistently outstanding. I always have full confidence that they will do an excellent job with minimal supervision from us.

Legal 500, 2022
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The members of the Withers team are professional and approachable, as well as being trustworthy and with high ethical practice standards. Clients can feel confident about the quality of advice they receive.

Legal 500, 2022

Meet the team

Esperienza

Multinational asset manager

Advising a multinational asset management company on ESG and BHR compliance with UK and EU regulatory standards.

Anglo-Canadian mining company

Advising an Anglo-Canadian mining company regarding operations in an African state addressing and preventing human rights issues in connection with a gold mine, including providing a suite of BHR policies, providing BHR executive and employee training and establishing an operational level grievance mechanism.

Italian food company

Advising an Italian multinational food company on modern slavery and human rights regulatory compliance.

Nestlé v. Doe

Representing an amici curiae brief in support of Respondents in Nestlé v. Doe, a case in which the United States Supreme Court examined aiding-and-abetting liability of US companies and parent companies in relation to extraterritorial breaches of human rights relating to the use of child labour and human trafficking.

Grant-making foundation

Advising an English-registered grant-making charitable foundation in relation to its investment powers in relation to ethical investments and the charity law issues as part of an ESG investment mandate.

International NGO

Representing an international NGO in connection with litigation and legislative strategies to seek accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in mining and sale of 'blood diamonds' from Sierra Leone.

Judicial review proceedings in Malawi

Advising an international organisation in judicial review proceedings in Malawi relating to international human rights obligations.

International Organisation

Advising an international organisation on litigation before the Constitutional Court of Uganda in relation to international human rights obligations.

Colombia v Ecuador

Advising the Republic of Colombia in a dispute with Ecuador before the International Court of Justice regarding aerial herbicide spraying and international environmental law.

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