Business & Human Rights | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
Business & Human Rights
Business & Human Rights

Business & Human Rights

About

Our global reach and diverse practice areas provide us with a deep bench of expertise on the legal and reputational risks and opportunities in this emerging area of law.

Over the past several years, the business & human rights landscape has seen a dramatic transformation, with:

  • a growing body of national laws around the world addressing many facets of human rights impacts of business, including international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles, and reporting requirements at the operations level and in supply chains;
  • the need for sophisticated due diligence to identify risks to meet regulatory requirements and voluntary corporate commitments;
  • an increase in judicial consideration of human rights protections; and
  • investor-driven action on human rights matters.

Companies are now faced with the task of navigating these complex risks and opportunities in an environment where many jurisdictions are steadily turning the 'soft law' of the UN Guiding Principles and voluntary initiatives into 'hard law'.

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Awarded a 'Standout' rating for our training program "Fundamentals of Business & Human Rights for Lawyers". We have subsequently developed a range of tailored trainings that we offer both internally and for clients. To read more, click here.
FT North American Innovative Lawyers 2016 Report

Experience

Global Battery Alliance
Partners John Tivey, Rebecca Campbell and Jacquelyn MacLennan are advising the Global Battery Alliance, a World Economic Forum initiative, which aims to create a responsible global supply of batteries throughout the entire value chain, from the mining and chemical industries to manufacturers, electronics, energy and automotive businesses, in a market that is likely to reach $100 billion by 2025. Launched at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2017, members include key corporates, NGOs and intergovernmental agencies operating in this space.

Extractive industry standards
We advised a parent company on the application of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) provisions on transparency, disclosure, anti-bribery and anti-corruption in the context of mining operations in Africa. This included an assessment of the sufficiency of local laws and parent company policies and procedures to align with EITI standards and requirements.

Anti-slavery and supply chain
We assisted a biomass company in Latin America on the response to potential slavery in the supply chain, where the initial project financing contained covenants to comply with the IFC Performance Standards for socially and environmentally sustainable financing. The IFC Performance Standards address human rights related issues at various levels, including supply chain, construction related health and safety impacts, worker rights, child labour and community welfare.

Infrastructure and project finance due diligence and compliance
For a project proposed to have Equator Principles-compliant financing, we advised the lenders to determine the sufficiency of human rights due diligence, and whether a separate human rights impact assessment would be required in order for the project developers to identify and address potential human rights risks of the infrastructure project and the underlying associated facility it will support.

We advised the sponsors of a rail and port infrastructure project financing in Africa on all facets of environmental and social compliance with laws and permits, as well as the IFC Performance Standards and the requirements of export credit agencies. The most significant issues revolved around livelihood restoration, resettlement impacts and community health and safety.

Guidance for businesses on human rights risks and opportunities in Africa
We partnered on a pro bono basis with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School to produce a best practice and risks guide on human rights for companies looking to invest and conduct business in Africa in different business sectors.

We established the African Centre on Law & Ethics (ACLE), with Fordham Law School and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Affairs (GIMPA), and conducted training on comparative perspectives on legal ethics, corruption, and business & human rights.

Human rights reporting requirements and compliance
We advise on the nature and scope of obligations under legislation, such as the UK's Modern Slavery Act, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, the US Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act, the French Duty of Corporate Vigilance, etc.

Dispute resolution / access to remedy
We represent companies that have faced exposure or litigation in relation to human rights impacts, such as under the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the Alien Tort Statute, Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as well as OECD National Contact Points complaints.  

We have assisted on pro bono research initiatives to develop best practices and recommendations around the development of operational grievance mechanisms and remediation mechanisms.

Due diligence / impact assessments
We regularly advise clients on appropriate due diligence or impact assessments in relation to business & human rights in a wide variety of transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, mining and metals, and projects.