The growth in legislation and proposed legislation which require companies to undertake mandatory human rights due diligence brings into focus the need for a trusted enforcement mechanism. This seminar will address the important question of whether a new regulatory body could monitor and enforce UK companies' compliance with human rights due diligence laws, launching research on this subject commissioned by the CORE Coalition, Traidcraft Exchange and Business and Human Rights Resource Centre from Dr Rachel Chambers of the University of Connecticut and two Partners from law firm Kingsley Napley, Sophie Kemp and Katherine Tyler. The seminar will consider the limits on the existing human rights enforcement mechanisms, addressing the reasons companies are not held to account for criminal conduct, as well as the obstacles faced by victims seeking redress through civil litigation. It will highlight regulatory success in addressing corporate misconduct in different contexts and identify the possible functions and design of a new regulatory body to monitor and enforce compliance with human rights due diligence laws, drawing on existing regulatory models.
The link to the research report commissioned by the CORE Coalition, Traidcraft Exchange and Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is here.
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Professor Robert McCorquodale
Professor Robert McCorquodale is a barrister and mediator at Brick Court Chambers, London, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Nottingham, and the Founder of Inclusive Law, a consultancy on business and human rights. Robert has over 25 years of experience working in business and human rights. He published widely in this area, including by empirical research, has advised business of all sizes, assisted governments around the world, been involved with civil society, industry and organisations in drafting legal changes and in litigation. This has included capacity building, legislative proposals and training, as well as interviewing and qualitative research. He has appeared as an advocate before the International Court of Justice and the United Kingdom Supreme Court, and as a legal expert before United Nations bodies.
Fiona Gooch, Senior Policy Advisor at Traidcraft Exchange
Fiona works to improve the impact UK-linked businesses have on vulnerable farmers, workers and communities in the global south. This includes work on supply chains, legal remedies and business and human rights and investment. She has been a director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, Corporate Responsibility coalition and the Responsible Purchasing Initiative. She has worked in Bangladesh, Belgium, Cambodia, China, Cote d’Ivoire, India, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Vietnam, including improving cashew, cocoa, tea, garment, green bean, cotton supply chains. She is a spokesperson on fairness in supply chains for BBC, Dispatches, and Sky News.
Dr Rachel Chambers, University of Connecticut
Dr Rachel Chambers’ is an academic who specialises in the intersection of business and human rights. Her doctorate in law from the University of Essex considers the challenges of extraterritorial solutions to human rights abuses in global business operations. Her current research as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Connecticut includes comparative research on transnational tort litigation and analysis of the accountability potential of laws mandating human rights disclosure and due diligence by corporations. She is a Barrister (England and Wales) and has worked as a consultant to major players in the business and human rights sphere, including the UN Global Compact and Amnesty International.
Sophie Kemp, Partner at Kingsley Napley LLP
Sophie is a partner in Kingsley Napley’s public law team, specialising in judicial review, large scale investigations and inquiries, and business and human rights, and described by Chambers 2021 as an “impressive lawyer” and “contributor to public law”. Sophie acts for regulatory bodies including Ofgem, the FCA and healthcare and accountancy regulators, as well as for companies and major charities. She has trained a number of regulatory body investigation teams. Sophie’s business and human rights practice includes representing The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition and the International Commission of Jurists to intervene in the Supreme Court case of Okpabi v Shell, a landmark case on corporate accountability brought by thousands of claimants in respect of pollution in the Niger Delta as well as acting for a group of claimants in a group class action alleging breaches of Article 2 and 3 of the ECHR. She is co-author of the “Report of research into how a regulator could monitor and enforce a proposed UK Human Rights Due Diligence law” commissioned by the CORE Coalition, Traidcraft Exchange and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.