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Human Rights


King & Wood Mallesons is the only large commercial law firm in Australia with a dedicated human rights practice. With experienced lawyers across Australia and internationally, we are at the forefront of this emerging area.

Recent experience in Europe and elsewhere suggests that businesses and governments can no longer afford to ignore the human rights implications of their activities.  Besides the obvious reputational risks, there are increasing compliance and reporting obligations that need to be satisfied.

Of course, maintaining focus on items that do not directly impact on this year’s financial results is not always an easy task. Yet human rights issues present opportunities, as well as challenges, for business.  Our pragmatic team has the depth of expertise and the strategic approach needed to help you steer a clear and credible path between compliance obligations, human rights aspirations and your internal and external pressures.

Our experienced lawyers provide strategic legal advice, together with solutions for their clients which are commercially focused, and we have a winning track record in human rights disputes.  Every year since 2009, we have been named the ALB Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Firm of the Year.

Human rights and business - why it matters

With the introduction of the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), human rights law is becoming increasingly relevant in Australia.

Globally, there is an increasing focus on the human rights implications of business activities. The UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights has almost completed his work on this topic. An increasing number of non-governmental organisations are scrutinising the human rights compliance of large businesses, and there is a growing number of international standards that address human rights issues, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Global Compact and the Equator Principles, which for the first time set a minimum human rights baseline for business activities.

Strong internal human rights policies that ensure compliance with recognised human rights standards will assist you to promote your business and avoid damaging media coverage, even if there is not yet a clear legal requirement to do so.

Australian businesses — particularly those with multinational links — are not immune to these changes. Internationally, all types of enterprises, as well as peak industry groups, are paying close attention to human rights obligations.  Businesses investing and working in emerging markets or backed by complex supply chains face particular challenges.

Australian businesses now have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of local developments and to be positioned as leaders in their field.


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