We are always grateful for our (very vocal) readership.
We recently published on your requirements under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act (2015) (here). Based on an internal poll, it came as no surprise that you collectively voted to learn more about global anti-slavery and human trafficking efforts. Given the morass of ethical, political, economic and legal issues swirling around this topic, it is also not surprising to see both (1) the rapid corporate response to the Modern Slavery Act and (2) the resulting enormous legislative momentum in other countries.
At the outset, it is worth noting that the legal ownership of people, and the slave trade, generally, is – shockingly – not a criminal offense in almost half of the world’s countries. As of publication, in 94 countries you cannot be prosecuted and punished in a local criminal court for enslaving another human being.
On the other hand, the Modern Slavery Act’s ethical clarity, indisputable morality and commitment to transparency appear to have directly inspired Australia and California (not quite a country…yet) to quickly adopt their own local anti-slavery legislation. Other (often EU) countries, moving more slowly, are working towards (1) similar human rights regulations and, in many cases, (2) due diligence and disclosure requirements.
Further, in March of this year the European Parliament issued an official resolution with heavy emphasis on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability; it called on the EU to adopt sustainability/due diligence legislation. By utilizing trade policy and customs to drive supply chain due diligence, such EU-wide legislation – if adopted – could have an enormous impact on the corporate universe.
This will, of course, lead to a confusing mess. (Legal) corporations are not in the enslavement/trafficking business. Increasingly, however, they will need to prove that.
In a vacuum, reporting and regulatory compliance are often cumbersome. However, radically different regulatory and reporting standards relating to the same topic will exponentially complicate corporate life.
Many of our clients are already subject to the Modern Slavery Act and should be preparing themselves for due diligence and disclosure requirements. (This includes, among other things, your Modern Slavery Statement.) Likely, our brave new world will become even more complicated in the future.
Of course, your legal experts at the Wallenstein Law Group are here to help. Contact us today!