An English Court ruled that a shipping company can be sued over a shipbreaker’s death in Bangladesh
The case had been filed in the UK against UK shipping company, Maran, who had acted as an agent to sell a defunct vessel to a ‘demolition buyer’ who, in turn, had conveyed it to a ship breaking yard in Bangladesh to perform the demolition of the vessel in spite of the international concern regarding the dangerous working practices in the Bangladesh shipbreaking yards which have been raised over the past few years. In the process of the demolition of the vessel, the worker fell to his death and his widow brought proceedings against Maran in the English courts in negligence and unjust enrichment for damages. On the 10th of March 2021, an English Court of Appeal held that Maran could be found to incur a duty of care to the shipbreaking worker on the basis that the company knowingly exposed him to significant dangers.
The European Parliament adopted a Resolution on Corporate Due Diligence and Accountability
On the 10th of March 2021, the European Parliament approved a resolution with recommendations to the Commission on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability which includes a draft directive. The draft directive provides that Member States shall lay down rules to ensure that companies carry out due diligence with respect to potential or actual adverse impacts on human rights, the environment and good governance in their operations and throughout their value chain. in terms of scope, it would cover EU-domiciled large companies, publicly listed small and medium-sized companies and SMEs operating in high-risk sectors as well as non-EU domiciled companies selling goods or providing services in the internal market. The draft directive provides for a public enforcement mechanism through a national competent authority responsible for the supervision of the application of the directive, as well as for a civil liability mechanism for harms caused or contributed to by acts or omissions of a company subject to the directive or another entity under its control.
New nill on Responsible and Sustainable International Business being considered in the Netherlands
In March 2021, four Dutch political parties submitted a draft law on responsible and sustainable international business to the Dutch Parliament. The draft law imposes a duty of care on all the companies registered in the Netherlands or selling goods or providing services to the Dutch market to prevent adverse human rights and environmental impacts arising out for their activities and value chains. It also imposes on large companies human rights and environmental due diligence obligations. In terms of enforcement, it provides for a public regulator which can issue binding instructions and financial sanctions in case of non-compliance.