A Legal newsflash on business and human rights Webversion
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Business and Human Rights Update
We are witnessing a legal avalanche relating to business and human rights. Our Business and Human Rights Updates will keep you advised of initiatives of relevance to your business. We are also constantly chasing new tools to enable businesses to identify and effectively address potential harm to people and the environment. Ultimately, what protects people (and the planet) is also what best protects businesses.
The new Norwegian Transparency Act enters into force 1 July 2022 | The Swedish Government has published its proposal for implementing the EU Taxonomy Regulation | More hands-on guidance on how to address worker exploitation | The EU takes steps to address so called SLAPPs
  • The new Norwegian Transparency Act enters into force 1 July 2022
    On 1 October, the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Families announced that the Norwegian Act on mandatory human rights due diligence and transparency obligations (No. Åpenhetsloven), previously discussed in this Update, will enter into force 1 July 2022. While the law provides for legal sanctions against non-compliant companies, including fines, the responsible Minister has emphasised the importance of giving both the supervising authority and businesses time to acquire the necessary knowledge and competence. Whether this means that the authority will refrain from imposing legal sanctions against non-compliant companies, for a period of time after 1 July 2022, remains to be seen.

  • Swedish implementation of the EU Taxonomy Regulation – including minimum human rights safeguards
    On 23 September, the Swedish Government published its proposal for implementing the EU Taxonomy Regulation into certain Swedish laws with effect from 1 January 2022. This is of significance for this Update because of climate change as a human rights issue and since compliance with minimum human rights safeguards is a prerequisite for qualifying as “environmentally sustainable”. The Swedish Government proposes to implement the EU Taxonomy Regulation mainly by way of the following measures:
    • Disclosure requirements pursuant to the EU Taxonomy Regulation for i.a. prospectuses and annual statements required under the Swedish UCITS Act (Sw. lagen om värdepappersfonder), the Swedish Securities Market Act (Sw. lagen om värdepappersmarknaden), and the Swedish Alternative Investment Funds Management Act (Sw. lagen om förvaltare av alternativa investeringsfonder)
    • Taxonomy disclosure compliance as a criteria for the granting of fund management applications by the Swedish Pension Agency
    • Taxonomy alignment disclosure as part of the annual sustainability report published by companies that: (i) are required to publish annual sustainability reports pursuant to the Swedish Annual Accounts Act (Sw. årsredovisningslagen); (ii) are public interest entities (i.e. listed companies, plus certain regulated entities); and (iii) have had an average of more than 500 employees during the most recent financial year (i.e. companies required to publish a sustainability report pursuant to the EU Accounting Directive).

  • More hands-on guidance on how to address worker exploitation
    Earlier this summer, the Bali Process Working Group on Trafficking in Persons published a Compendium of Good Practice Examples to Combat Exploitation in Supply Chains. Primarily intended as advice to governments, it is equally helpful to businesses working to address potential exploitation in their supply chains. It provides readable indicators of forced labour, including case studies demonstrating sector-specific features of modern slavery, suggestions for operative steps to address modern slavery and references to practical guidelines published by various governments, including the US government’s Responsible Sourcing Tool, visualising the risk of child and forced labour according to context and sector, and the New Zealand government’s guidance on Ethical and sustainable work practices.

  • The EU plans to legislate procedural safeguards against abusive lawsuits that target journalists and human rights defenders
    On 4 October, the EU Commission launched a public consultation on “EU action against abusive litigation targeting journalists and rights defenders” (Strategic Lawsuits against Abusive Participation (SLAPP). The purpose of the EU SLAPP roadmap, which is part of the European Democracy Action Plan, is to “address the threat [“of democratic values and fundamental rights” through “misuse of the judiciary systems to censor, intimidate and silence journalists and rights defenders”] and help ensure the proper functioning of the checks and balances of a healthy democracy”. The roadmap envisages a palette of actions, including legislation aimed at providing directed procedural safeguards against SLAPPs in cross-border situations, coverage of costs, legal aid and third-party interventions in proceedings. According to the roadmap, the EU Commission plans to adopt a proposal in Q2 2022. The feedback period ends on 1 November 2021.
If you have questions or want to discuss any of these issues, you can always reach out to your existing contacts at the firm. You are also welcome to contact the members of our Corporate Sustainability and Risk Management team, some of whom are listed at the bottom of this page. 

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Erica Wiking Häger, Partner, erica.wiking.hager@msa.se
Malin Helgesen, Specialist Counsel, malin.helgesen@msa.se
Peter Linderoth, Partner, peter.linderoth@msa.se
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