Solicitors vital in UK business’ understanding of human rights

15 Sep, 2015

Solicitors’ role in protecting human rights is key when advising UK companies on their conduct at home and abroad, the Law Society will say today (15th September).

 

The representative body for solicitors will announce that human rights in business operations of all sizes is becoming increasingly important.

Business and human rights is the concept that all businesses respect and adhere to international human rights protections. For lawyers, this means using their advice and influence to assist both large industry and small business where rights are at risk of being threatened or abused. This could include working conditions in factories, the use of child labour, and individual employment rights. It also means ensuring that human rights are respected in their own firms, or in-house positions.

 

Today the Law Society launches its national engagement programme on Business and Human Rights. This initiative involves consulting with solicitors across England and Wales to find out what guidance and support they need in this growing area.

The first of the engagement events, which takes place in London, includes a workshop and panel discussion. Throughout September and October, the Law Society will also be holding interactive events in Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge and Leeds.
The interactive workshops are an opportunity for solicitors to hear about emerging developments in the area of business and human rights, and changing expectations of law firms.

Discussions will include:

  • key developments regarding business responsibilities to respect human rights;
  • what these developments could mean for your clients and your practice;
  • emerging expectations regarding how firms manage human rights risks associated with their client relationships, employees and supply chains.

 

President of the Law Society Jonathan Smithers said: “Our aim is to ensure that solicitors in England and Wales understand the implications of what it means to respect human rights in their professional practice.

 

“We want to know what business and human rights means to solicitors, how confident they are advising clients on business and human rights issues, what concerns they have, and how we can help them. We want to encourage them to take active steps to implement provisions within their own place of work and ensure that they are fully equipped to advise on the business and human rights concerns of their clients.

“I would encourage solicitors to take this valuable opportunity to speak to experts in the field, and help us form the basis of our business and human rights guidance. If members are unable to attend a workshop, the online survey is another excellent way to let us know how we can best support them.”

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