Business & Human Rights Law

Paxus provides strategy, due diligence and dispute resolution services with respect to human rights and social sustainability matters. We help multinational corporations and financial institutions develop responsible business practices and respond to emerging regulatory and litigation risks associated with national and international human rights, humanitarian and environmental law instruments. We have experience with transnational tort litigation, as well as OECD National Contact Point special instances and operational level grievance mechanisms.

Services overview

Strategy

When multinational corporations and financial institutions conduct business in countries where the risk of involvement in human rights impacts is high, they turn to Paxus for mitigation strategies. We help clients understand the legal, reputational and operational implications of how they meet their commercial objectives around the world. We do not just revere complex problems. We help our clients solve them.

We also advise international financial institutions and governments on ways to incentivize and monitor corporate respect for human rights.

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Due Diligence

We empower our corporate and financial institution clients to act with due diligence — helping them see where human rights risks lie and guiding them to address risks that are salient or material. We also design and implement due diligence processes that allow clients to identify and assess actual and potential human rights impacts in which they are involved; act upon and integrate findings into decision making; track their efforts to address impacts; and communicate how they are addressing them.

We help international financial institutions and governments in their efforts to assess and influence corporate respect for human rights.

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Dispute Resolution

We are leading international arbitration lawyers and also have experience with transnational tort litigation involving human rights and environmental issues.

We create strategies to help clients anticipate and avoid being associated with negative human rights impacts. If criticisms or claims do arise, we assist clients by developing appropriate and principled responses, combining our business and human rights expertise with our internationally respected dispute resolution capabilities.

Governments and international financial institutions also engage our dispute resolution services.

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Strategy

Strategy services

  • ongoing or episodic strategic advice
  • policy development
  • governance and capacity building
  • compliance systems
  • stakeholder engagement processes
  • managing business relationships
  • transactional support
  • grievance mechanisms
  • training
  • reporting
  • performance monitoring
  • action plans
  • crisis response

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Team Experience Highlights

  • Advising an international financial institution on reforming their suite of template agreements to address ESG related litigation risks arising from their provision of finance to private sector projects in emerging markets.
  • Advising a British discount fashion brand on strategies to mitigate supply chain risks emanating from manufacturing hubs in Asia, including through tracing techniques, the use of blockchain technology and perpetual contract clauses.
  • Advising a European automotive company on strategies to avoid involvement in human trafficking and modern slavery of migrant workers in a Middle Eastern country.
  • Advising a European oil and gas and telecommunications companies on risks associated with operating in a country under military rule, joint ventures with military owned companies and on the design of responsible exit plans.
  • Advising a social media company on international law with respect to election related speech and strategies for addressing government attempts to restrict such speech and penalties for non-compliance.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Drafting a human rights policy and supplier code of conduct for a US based oil and gas company with operations in the US and a West African country.
  • Designing a security and human rights policy, compliance system, training course, community engagement programme and grievance mechanism for a UK based mining company with operations in East Africa.
  • Designing a procurement and supply chain management system to address child labour in Africa for a UK based fast-moving consumer goods company.
  • Drafting a European engineering firm’s high-risk countries manual and human rights clauses for its contracts, including with regard to operations in Africa.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Providing training for a US gold mining company on security and human rights considerations in a post-conflict environment and on designing effective operational level grievance mechanisms suitable for use in a South American country.
  • Advising a Canadian mining company on community and civil society engagement to reduce tensions following a security and human rights related crisis at its mine in Central America.
  • Advising several US, UK and Spanish investors in the renewable energy sector in Mexico on ways to address government policies undermining their investments and the State’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
  • Advising Japanese mining companies on political developments and the evolution of ESG policies in several Latin American countries and strategies to avoid ESG related disputes.
  • Undertaking a study comparing mining companies’ engagement with the principle of free, prior and informed consent and the outcome for their projects and communities in Peru.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Reporting: Drafting annual reports, sustainability reports, human rights reports and modern slavery reports for multinational companies based in the US, Canada, UK, Switzerland and Australia in numerous sectors, including hotels, telecommunications, mining and energy,.
  • Policies: Drafting human rights and security policies for companies based in the US, Canada and UK based on an in-depth understanding of the litigation risks in those jurisdictions.

Due Diligence

Due diligence services

  • ongoing or episodic due diligence reviews
  • human rights impact assessments
  • portfolio and business model reviews
  • business and investment planning advice
  • privileged investigations
  • independent reviews
  • legal opinions

We also design and help implement strategies and action plans to address salient risks and crises (See Strategy practice).

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Team Experience Highlights

  • Providing a legal opinion on the responsibility of a development finance institution under the UNGPs with respect to impacts and remedies regarding a troubled bioenergy project in West Africa.
  • Providing a human rights risk assessment on a quarry project in East Africa for a European investor.
  • Providing a legal opinion for a European development finance institution regarding human rights impacts with respect to a hospital project in West Africa.
  • Providing a legal opinion on the responsibility of a European engineering company under the UNGPs with respect to impacts and remedies with respect to a windfarm project in a disputed territory.
  • Conducting due diligence for a UK based mining company on human rights impacts involving its East African subsidiary and State security forces.
  • Conducting due diligence and providing strategic advice to financial institutions regarding the human rights risks associated with an LNG project in Southern Africa.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Providing strategy advise to a mining company invested in a disputed and conflict affected territory.
  • Providing a legal opinion and action plan for a European energy company in respect of risks arising from the military take-over of a country in South-East Asia.
  • Providing a legal opinion to a mining company on its responsibilities of under the UNGPs for human rights impacts by private security guards.
  • Providing a legal opinion to a social media company on international law in respect of hate speech and permissible restrictions on freedom of expression.
  • Advising a major food processing and retailing group on sanctions, money laundering, import bans and litigation risks associated with a factory in Asia.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Conducting human rights due diligence for a consortium of investors on the acquisition of a renewable power generation company in a South American country focusing on risks associated with security forces and post-conflict issues.
  • Conducting human rights due diligence on the risks associated with establishing a renewable energy business in Mexico in light of recent political developments and the principle of free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples.
  • Conducting human rights due diligence for a mining company on risks associated with acquiring and developing mines, including for transition minerals, in several South American countries.

Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution services

  • International Arbitration (Also see our International Arbitration practice page)
  • Transnational litigation
  • International courts
  • Non-judicial proceedings
  • Grievance mechanisms

We also design and help implement strategies and action plans to address salient risks and crises (See Strategy practice).

Back To Overview

Team Experience Highlights

  • Representing a natural resource company in defending transnational tort claims in England involving allegations regarding the conduct of security forces in an East African country.
  • Representing a fast-moving consumer goods company in defending transnational tort claims in England involving allegations regarding child labour in Southern Africa.
  • Representing a development finance institution in defending a threatened judicial review of an investment in a telecommunications company in East Africa.
  • Representing an African State in defending an investment treaty arbitration involving alleged human rights violations brought by a media company.

Team Experience Highlights

  • Representing a Latin American State in defending an investment treaty arbitration and a contract based arbitration involving human rights and environmental impacts by a US investor.
  • Representing an oil and gas major in an investment treaty arbitration involving allegations of environmental and social impacts and alleged local law violations in a South American country.
  • Advising an international financial institution regarding US litigation risks, immunities and its social and environmental compliance and accountability framework.
  • Building operational level grievance mechanisms for clients in sectors including mining, oil and gas, telecommunications and social media.

Recognised leaders in the field

We have been at the forefront of the field of business and human rights since it emerged more than a decade ago. We have also been engaged in the areas of law and social science that underlie the field for more than two decades.

There is no greenwashing of our credentials. We were recognised as true experts in business and human rights long before it became part of social sustainability and the “S” in ESG entered the lexicon of mainstream investors.

Read our thought leadership

“Suzanne Spears is the best corporate lawyer on business and human rights.”

Legal 500 UK: Public International Law 2022

“She is bright, intelligent and able to work out ways forward in any difficult situation.”

Chambers Global: Business and Human Rights Law, 2022

“Suzanne is very astute and has good foresight of upcoming legal risks.”

Chambers UK: Public International Law 2022

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