A Modern Slavery Act for the UK: the uncertainty for business continues

A Modern Slavery Act for the UK: the uncertainty for business continues

Handcuffs demonstrating slavery and the lawOn March 26, 2015 the Modern Slavery Bill received Royal Assent. A consultation was held and in November 2014 the draft Bill was amended to include a transparency in supply chains (TISC) clause.  This has now been enacted.

What will this mean for business? The truth is that this is not exactly clear yet.

The gist of the TISC clause is the introduction of a requirement that certain commercial organisations produce a “slavery and human trafficking statement”. The statement requires sign off from those responsible for the organisation and should outline the steps taken by the business to ensure that no slavery or trafficking is occurring in its supply chain and within its operations.

If no such steps have been taken, a statement to that effect will suffice for the purposes of complying with the law. As it stands, there is also a lack of any real consequence for breaching the TISC clause requirements.

There has been significant criticism and discontent on the shape and form of the obligation which currently leaves all “suppliers of goods and services” in limbo. Although the law has been passed with the TISC clause there remain a few points to resolve. Namely, the turnover threshold – what size companies will be caught? This question is currently the subject of an open consultation which

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About the author:

CLT envirolaw as a Junior Associate in September 2013 after completing a Summer Internship with the company.

Larissa holds a LLB in Law with Hispanic Law and a LLM specialising in Competition Law from University College London. She gained valuable commercial experience working for a demanding US client, one of the ‘big 4’ accountancy firms, in Procurement Operations at multinational, Tata Consultancy Services.

Larissa is particularly interested in the shared responsibility between the public and private sectors to achieve positive economic, social and environmental outcomes. Her LLB dissertation explored the environmental responsibility of multinational corporations investing in developing countries, focusing particularly on the example of Finnish company Botnia from the high profile ICJ case, Paper Pulp Mills. She was subsequently awarded a distinction for her LLM dissertation on how to generate a credible commitment to infrastructure privatisation under public private partnerships in the emerging market context.

Larissa is also passionate about a range of international development issues. In 2009 she completed a Legal Aid internship with the Uruguayan Judiciary. More recently, Larissa was awarded a competitive fellowship to work on a micro-solar distribution project in Bangalore, India, with social business Pollinate Energy. Along with fulfilling her responsibilities with CLT envirolaw, Larissa has also been working with the British Association for Sustainable Sport and has volunteered with Legal Response Initiative, an organisation offering free legal advice to least developed countries during UN climate change negotiations.