Free webinar on watershed UK decisions on parent company liability

ICJ Queensland is hosting a free webinar on 22 April 2021 at 5.30pm (AEST / GMT+10) on watershed UK decisions holding parent companies potentially liable for harm caused by their subsidiary companies under normal principles for establishing a duty of care. The UK approach contrasts with Australia where parent company liability has largely fallen off the radar.

The webinar will examine three recent UK decisions and discuss their implications for Australian corporations law and human rights globally:

  1. Vedanta Resources PLC v Lungowe [2019] UKSC 20, which is a watershed decision of the UK Supreme Court involving procedural dispute over whether litigation relating to pollution in Zambia could be tried in the UK courts.
  2. Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell [2021] UKSC 3, in which the UK Supreme Court affirmed Vedanta and substantially reduced the procedural hurdles of litigation against parent companies for overseas subsidiaries in the context of litigation over oil pollution in Nigeria.
  3. Begum v Maran (UK) Ltd [2021] EWCA Civ 326 in which the Court of Appeal of England and Wales applied Vedanta and Shell to find UK companies might be liable for unsafe work conditions of Bangladesh shipbreakers.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) intervened as amicus curiae in the first two appeals in support of the human rights arguments.

Daniel Leader, a partner at Leigh Day, which acted for the plaintiffs in all three cases, said the ruling in Shell:

“represents a watershed moment in the accountability of multinational companies. Increasingly impoverished communities are seeking to hold powerful corporate actors to account and this judgment will significantly increase their ability to do so.”

This webinar is hosted by the Queensland Chapter of the ICJ.

The speakers:

Oliver Holland is a partner at Leigh Day, the UK law firm that acted for the plaintiffs in the three cases discussed. Oliver specialises in international cases involving multinational corporations where environmental harm or human rights abuses have been alleged. He acted for the plaintiffs in Vedanta Resources and the Bangladesh shipbreakers case and will discuss their human rights implications.

Matthew Brady QC is a Brisbane barrister with a broad commercial and civil practice, with particular emphasis upon corporate and commercial litigation and administrative cases. He is regularly briefed by various Commonwealth entities and acted for ASIC in ASIC v King [2020] HCA 4, which involved the meaning of “officer” of a corporation. He will discuss the implications of the UK approach for Australian corporations law.

Chair:       Dr Chris McGrath, barrister.

Time:        5.30 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10)

Date:         Thursday 22 April 2021

Venue:     online link provided on registration

RSVP: by 21 April 2021

‘Human Rights Litigation against Multinational Parent Companies’.

The Private Law Group of Trinity College Dublin Law School is hosting a different webinar featuring guest speaker Richard Meeran, Head of the International department at Leigh Day, London who will speak on ‘Human Rights Litigation against Multinational Parent Companies’.

The webinar is being held at 5pm on 22 April 2021 in Dublin, Ireland (which is 2am AEST on 23 April 2021).

Registration is free at this link.