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Business & Human Rights Litigation

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Quinn Emmanuel has one of the most pre-eminent business and human rights practices.  We act in human rights related disputes around the globe and we advise businesses on how to identify and address human rights risk in their operations and supply chain.  Our expertise is truly international and cuts across sectors – from telecommunications, technology and artificial intelligence to construction and engineering and the extractive sector.

Disputes

Led by Chambers ranked London partner Julianne Hughes-Jennett, the team has acted in some of the most important disputes in the field; in prosecutions for corporate complicity in crimes under international law brought by several European states; in “parent company liability” and duty of care cases in the English Courts; in class actions brought under the Alien Tort Statute in the US; and in National Contact Point Communications in several States.  Our team has world-class expertise in issues of extra-territorial jurisdiction and conflict of laws - critical to cases which involve the responsibility of multinationals headquartered in North America or Europe for impacts which occur overseas. And we have deep knowledge of the legal issues that can arise when businesses operate in conflict zones.

Crucially, we understand how these disputes play out in the public domain.  Our experience allows us to tailor a litigation strategy to your specific context and to ensure that it complements your public relations and wider stakeholder engagement strategies.  Where appropriate, we can advise on operational grievance mechanisms which are consistent with international human rights standards and which protect your legal rights.

Internal investigations and crisis management

If an organisation is associated with a human rights impact, it needs to act quickly to understand what happened and respond with confidence.  We understand that the decisions it makes in these early days can have huge, long-term significance - for the business’s reputation and legal exposure and for the affected rights holders.  We have the right blend of expertise to help you get these decisions right.  We have run internal investigations which span multiple jurisdictions, conflict zones and complex corporate structures.  We can deploy large teams into challenging environments at short notice, engage with internal and external stakeholders and help you to establish what happened and where responsibility lies.  We can place this into the appropriate legal framework so that you understand any litigation risk and we can advise on the appropriate response under internationally recognised human rights standards.

Advisory

Drawing on our deep knowledge of how human rights risk to a business’s stakeholders can create legal risk for the business, our advisory practice helps businesses to identify human rights issues in their operations and supply chains and implement practical and effective systems to prevent them from materialising.  We carry out human rights impact assessments and human rights due diligence.  We support businesses to comply with the growing web of legislation in the field, from the Modern Slavery Act in the UK and Australia to the Duty of Vigilance Law in France.  And we guide businesses to anticipate changes in the legislative landscape so that they can plan accordingly.  Unlike many law firms, we can go beyond legal compliance and support businesses to substantively engage with human rights issues – thus reducing the human rights risk to rights holders and the legal and reputational risk to the business.  Our team offers a blend of legal and consultancy expertise, enabling us competitively to offer a full service to our clients.

Chambers Global recognises us for our unusual mix of disputes and advisory work, describing Julianne Hughes-Jennett as a "passionate and driven practitioner" known for her "great deal of work in dispute resolution and human rights due diligence” and acknowledges her as a "very steady hand in guiding clients" on international human rights issues and liabilities.

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Recent Representations

  • International counsel for the executives of a listed extractive company in a cutting edge criminal investigation into their alleged complicity in crimes under international law
  • Representing one of the world’s largest mining companies in relation to personal injury claims arising out of police operations in and around one of its operations in sub-Saharan Africa. The company is currently defending proceedings commenced in the High Court of Justice in England, the claimants having bypassed the company’s local grievance resolution process
  • Advising a multinational energy company on a National Contact Point complaint regarding transparency and human rights due diligence in the ship-building sector
  • Advising a member of the board of directors of a French construction materials company in the scope of a criminal investigation opened in France for complicity in crimes against humanity, financing of terrorism, embargo violation and endangering the life of others in a war zone
  • Advising a French sugar cooperative group following the discovery of bags of sorbitol powder produced in its French factories in Daech warehouses in Iraq
  • Advising a French company specialized in the design and manufacture of passive components and electromechanical solutions in the scope of a criminal investigation opened in France pursuant to a complaint filed by a Palestinian family, with the support of a French non-governmental organization, for alleged manslaughter and complicity of war crimes in Gaza
  • Advising a French company specialized in mineral extraction and processing in the context of its interaction with an international non-governmental organization concerning the company’s alleged activity in Afghanistan
  • Advising a multinational technology company on how to develop artificial intelligence which respects human rights*
  • Acting in the English High Court for an international oil and gas major in a class action regarding environmental damage and parent company liability*
  • Acting in the English High Court for an international oil and gas major in a dispute regarding the ability of the English courts to supervise an operational grievance mechanism*
  • Advising a multinational construction and engineering company on systems and processes to identify and address the risk of modern slavery in its supply chains and operations*
  • Advising companies in the ICT, retail and energy sectors on their Modern Slavery statements
  • Advising on the human rights responsibility of financial institutions which lend to clients in the palm oil sector*
  • Advising an international telco on how to manage the human rights related legal risk associated with their operations and joint ventures in high risk jurisdictions*
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