Investors across the globe are increasingly putting pressure on legislators to mandate human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD“). The UK Government has not been immune from such pressure.

As highlighted in our earlier blog post, in early September 2022, a group of 47 companies, investors, business associations and initiatives operating in the UK published a joint statement calling on the UK Government to mandate UK-operating companies and investors to conduct HREDD. Taking this a step further, on 30 September 2022, a group of 63 businesses, investors and civil society organisations wrote to the UK Prime Minister, calling on the UK Government to “urgently bring forward ambitious primary legislation to mandate companies to carry out HREDD” to ensure that the UK remains “at the forefront of setting standards for renewed prosperity and sustainable trade worldwide“.

The letter states that “UK businesses, investors and other financial actors have a responsibility to respect our shared human rights and the environment” and that “the process of continuously conducting robust HREDD is a core requirement for businesses and investors in fulfilling that responsibility, as outlined in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In addition to helping businesses adhere to their human rights and environmental-related responsibilities, the group go on to justify their calls by stating that mandatory HREDD legislation would help “contribute to a level playing field, increase legal coherence and certainty about the standards expected from businesses, clarify legal consequences when those standards are not met, and increase engagement and leverage with value chain partners“.

For further information on recent and likely future HREDD regulatory developments, and for tips on how to navigate this evolving landscape, please read our earlier blog post.