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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Business & human rights

Long-established practice at the forefront of developments in the field

Human rights risk management is a key element of responsible business practice for all business enterprises, regardless of size, sector, geographic location or reach.

We have a long-established practice in business and human rights, including lawyers who have been at the forefront of developments for more than a decade. We work closely with clients to navigate the legal and 'soft' law standards that apply, taking an integrated, cross-practice approach to what are often cross-jurisdictional challenges.

We have extensive experience of advising multinational corporations across the spectrum of governance, advisory, transactional, risk management, compliance and dispute resolution issues that businesses face in this area and frequently advise on these issues in the context of relevant internationally recognised standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

We understand the strategic importance of effective human rights risk management to support responsible and sustainable business models.

Our business & human rights services

Strategic advice and planning

Human rights issues affect the whole life cycle of business activities. We help businesses pursue a strategic and holistic approach to the management of human rights risk with an understanding of the legal implications of the options they choose. We are "go-to" counsel for clients who seek our assistance to manage their human rights related concerns alongside their other key business risks.

Due diligence

We assist our clients as they identify, manage and address salient human rights risks within their business relationships and supply chains across the life cycle of investments and other business activity. This work spans investment planning, policy development and implementation, human rights due diligence and the design and implementation of grievance mechanisms and crisis management.

Managing business relationships

We help clients to formalise human rights considerations within business relationships. This includes the development of contractual frameworks which promote respect for human rights and encourage counterparties to act appropriately. In all contexts, we seek solutions that are both commercially pragmatic and aligned with a respect for human rights.

Reporting and stakeholder engagement

As scrutiny of business practices intensifies, we advise clients on their corporate communications and reporting, and on stakeholder engagement. Given the ever-increasing demands for transparency and accountability in terms of expectations on business, increased stakeholder scrutiny and increasingly legal regulation and legislation, we provide considerable expertise on the formal reporting of human rights risks in accordance with increasing national legislation and due diligence efforts.

Legal accountability and dispute resolution

We help clients create strategies to anticipate and avoid being associated with negative human rights impacts. But if criticisms or claims arise, we assist clients in developing appropriate responses, allying our business and human rights expertise with our internationally respected investigation and dispute resolution capabilities.

Recent client highlights

  • Advising a private fund in designing a framework for the integration of human rights into its ESG policies and processes throughout its investment business and operations.
  • Advising an international organisation on governance policies.
  • Advising a corporation operating in an African country on security and human rights issues during a period of civil conflict, including emergency evacuation planning, and considerations relating to the support of state security and police forces. litigation.
  • Advising a major international corporation on a range of human rights related policy, compliance, governance, sustainability and risk management issues and the intersection of legal risk with the management of human rights impacts and ESG concerns.
  • Representing a sovereign State in relation to international legal and regulatory developments that may have implications for trade with and investment in the State and its business sectors based on ESG, and human rights issues.
  • Advising multiple clients on the implementation of reporting and due diligence in respect of human rights and environmental issues in response to the supply chain requests, voluntary adoption of responsible business frameworks, and/or mandatory corporate requirements and due diligence requirements).
  • Advising multiple multinational enterprises with respect to the design and implementation of vigilance plans under the 2017 French Vigilance Law.

  • Advising an international organisation on a dispute risk management project, focusing on dispute risks arising from ESG standards and practices (including third party tort claims from people allegedly affected by projects financed by the institution).
  • Advising multinational enterprises in relation to complaints made to the National Contact Points of OECD member States under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises alleging non-observance of the human rights and the environment expectations set out in the guidelines.
  • Acting for multinational enterprises in litigation concerning human rights and environment related harms.
  • Assisting an international financial institution to design a grievance mechanism for a mining project in Africa.

Podcast – Sustainable solutions

In a new episode of the International Bar Association Legal Policy & Research Unit's podcast on business and sustainability, Partner and IBA member Rae Lindsay joins Jonathan Drimmer (Partner, Paul Hastings) and Hanim Hamzah (Regional Managing Partner, ZICO Law) to discuss how business and human rights and sustainability have gained momentum in the global legal community, and much more.

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