Human rights are now important litigation and regulatory considerations for businesses. Recent years have seen an increased focus on the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern corporate transparency, due diligence, and accountability for human rights violations.
From international legal standards such as the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multi-National Enterprises, to domestic legislation including the Companies Act 2006, the Bribery Act 2010 and the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the evolution of the regulatory landscape has been rapid and is set to continue.
Business and human rights, like other areas linked to Environmental, Social and Governance (‘ESG’), in practice encompasses multiple disciplines of law. As a multi-disciplinary set with recognised experts in modern slavery, corporate crime and investigations, tort law and regulatory law, 7BR is able to offer comprehensive advice and representation in this area, including on:
- Civil, criminal, and regulatory risks and liability;
- Civil litigation;
- Criminal litigation (including private prosecutions);
- Internal investigations;
- The content of s54 Modern Slavery Act statements;
- Human rights assessments and advising on compliance with the UNGPs and the OECD Guidelines.
7BR barristers’ recent direct experience providing legal advice and representation in this fast developing area of law includes:
Modern slavery and trafficking:
- R v Rooney & Others  4 WLR 89, one of the UK’s largest forced labour prosecutions and the leading Court of Appeal authority on the meaning of forced or compulsory labour.
- Taiwo v Olaigbe  UKSC 31 – Supreme Court authority on compensation for modern slavery victims.
- A&B v CICA  1 WLR 5361 – representing the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit as intervener in Supreme Court appeal on access to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme for victims of modern slavery.
- Komives v Hick Lane Bedding & AM Trust Europe  EWHC 3288 (QB) – authority on whether an insurance company can void a contract of insurance for misrepresentation where the insured company’s director was party to a human trafficking conspiracy.
- Advising and representing the victims of the Kozeesleep and Operation Fort modern slavery conspiracies in civil claims for damages against both traffickers and companies whose workers were subject to forced labour.
- Representing victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster in civil and Human Rights Act 1998 claims against state and corporate bodies.
- Municipio de Mariana and others v BHP Group Plc – acting for claimants in a class action arising from the collapse of the Fundão mining dam in Brazil in 2015. The collapse killed 19 people and released approximately 40 million cubic metres of toxic waste into the Rio Doce, leading to Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
- Representing the interests of Bank Mellat in its multi-billion-dollar claim against HMT for infringing its Article 1 protocol 1 ECHR rights by restricting its access to the UK market.
- Flavio de Carvalho Pinto Viegas and others v Cutrale and others – counsel instructed as part of a team acting for a class of Brazilian orange growers in a substantial cartel claim brought in England under Brazilian competition laws.
Corporate crime, bribery and corruption:
- Members of Chambers are regularly instructed by the SFO on their significant investigations, leading to prosecution or Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA). Recent experience in Chambers includes the Rolls Royce DPA, and advice on other SFO investigations is ongoing.
- Members have direct advisory, litigation and trial experience in recent commercial bribery prosecutions.
Internal and external investigations:
- Businesses are increasingly called upon to conduct internal investigations, which may raise significant ESG and business and human rights issues. Internal investigations are legally and factually complex, often against a backdrop of immediate crisis and the potential for future litigation. Members have extensive experience of conducting this highly confidential work, both at the request of the business concerned and at the instigation of a relevant regulator.
- 7BR’s members are currently instructed for corporates and trust companies conducting their own internal investigations or being investigated by the UK and overseas regulators and prosecutors. Our work includes document reviews, interviewing relevant witnesses (including directors and employees) and reporting our findings in writing.
- Our investigative experience includes alleged breaches of anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions regulations, failings of corporate governance affecting the business’ good standing with its regulator or its public reputation, and concerns relating to the actions of rogue employees and contractors.