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The following letter was published in the Times on 2 December 2013.
Letters to the Editor
Published at 12:01AM, December 2 2013
The UK Government must ensure that victims of abuse perpetrated overseas are able to access justice in the UK
Sir, As delegates gather in Geneva for the Second Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, we urge the UK Government to live up to its commitment to ensure that victims of corporate human rights abuses perpetrated overseas are able to access justice in the UK courts.
Despite widespread allegations of corporate misconduct, it remains extremely difficult for court cases against multinationals to proceed in many of the countries where the alleged abuses occurred. It is therefore essential that such cases can be brought in the home states of the companies concerned. In 2011, governments unanimously agreed to address this problem when they endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which recognise the state duty to provide access to remedy in cases of corporate human rights abuse.
As home to some of the world’s largest multinationals, the UK ought to have led the way in delivering on this obligation. Instead, the Government went ahead with changes to the court costs regime, which means it is now far more difficult to bring such cases in this country. In its Business and Human Rights Action Plan, released in September, the FCO made a commitment “to keep the UK provision of remedy under review”.
It should now proceed with this review as a matter of urgency.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury
Sir Nigel Rodley
Courtenay Barklem, Associate, McCue & Partners
Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chairwoman, Bar Human Rights Committee
Professor Sara Chandler, Chair, Law Society Human Rights Committee
Mark Cunningham QC, Maitland Chambers
Nick Fluck, President of the Law Society
Dr Silvia Borelli, Director of Research, School of Law, University of
Martyn Day, Senior Partner, Leigh Day
Carla Ferstman, Director, REDRESS
Ingrid Gubbay, European Head of Human Rights and Environmental Law,
Hausfeld & Co.
Ole Hansen, Partner, Hansen Palomares
Richard Hermer QC, Matrix Chambers
Phil Lynch, Director, International Service for Human Rights
Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar
Sapna Malik, Partner, Leigh Day
Michael Mansfield QC, Tooks Chambers
Richard Meeran, Partner, Leigh Day
Sue Willman, Partner, Deighton Pierce Glynn
Bindmans LLP, Solicit