find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
In-house survey shines light on corporate human rights

In-house survey shines light on corporate human rights

Stephane Brabant

A new survey of over 200 senior in-house counsel has revealed the value they believe their organisations place on human rights concerns.

According to a joint survey conducted by Herbert Smith Freehills and Legal Business, 51 per cent of the 275 senior in-house counsel surveyed believe their companies have changed their supply chain management practices to incorporate human rights duties.

Stéphane Brabant (pictured), co-head of Herbert Smith Freehills’ business and human rights group, said corporates are increasingly recognising that failing to respect human rights carries real legal risks, as well as reputational, financial and operational risks.

“Companies and lawyers need to change their mindsets. Hard sanctions can increasingly be imposed via soft law mechanisms, or by what can be described as ‘new judges’ (any stakeholders) and companies must anticipate and get ahead of this risk,” Mr Brabant said.

“We have come a long way from a few decades or even a few years ago when some multinationals did not feel concerned by human rights and did not want to hear about respecting human rights. Developments including the approval in 2011 of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have seen some of the very same companies become model citizens.

“There is now a growing recognition among corporates, as reflected by our survey, that human rights are not a law-free zone for businesses, and businesses’ obligation to respect human rights in their supply chains is no longer an option, it is a necessity.”

According to the survey, 46 per cent of respondents believe their organisation has made a public commitment to respect human rights, with 51 per cent saying this took the form of a code of conduct for suppliers and 44 per cent saying this was via a formal human rights policy.

However, 22 per cent of respondents are unsure whether their organisation has made such a commitment.

In response to the question of whether senior management is aware that the organisation may be held liable for non-compliance with its unilateral commitment on human rights, 65 per cent of respondents said management is either not aware, unsure or only partially aware, while just 35 per cent said senior management is fully aware.

Herbert Smith Freehills partner Daniel Hudson said that, since there is potential for litigation and enforcement if companies do not live up to their commitments, it is vital that in-house counsel are on top of the pledges and public statements being made in relation to human rights.

“It is also important for companies to go beyond what is strictly required under the law. They need to look beyond the strict legal litigation risks and consider reputation risk,” Mr Hudson said.

“Customers, shareholders, NGOs and lenders will expect them to be doing this and meeting high standards.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

In-house survey shines light on corporate human rights
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Law Council of Australia
LCA calls for urgent adoption of ‘game-changing’ recommendation
The Law Council of Australia has urged for the immediate adoption of a key recommendation put forwar...
Sally Wheeler
Nov 20 2017
ANU College of Law appoints new dean
A distinguished legal academic and the former head of law of a higher education institution in Irela...
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...