Towards a German Supply Chain Act? Conflict of Laws and Comparative Law Considerations; Lecture at MPI Hamburg, 1 September 2020

We have covered human rights litigation here before, in particular the case of the Pakistani textile workers against German textile retail chain Kik decided by the Court of Appeals (Oberlandesgericht) Hamm. So I thought I ought to alert readers to a lecture on a development that may impact the future development of the field in Germany, namely the planned Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz).

The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law in Hamburg has invited Giesela Rühl to deliver a lecture on Germany’s approach and the Lieferkettengesetz, as part of the Institute’s series “Current Research in Private International Law”. Here’s from the organisers:

“In July, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil and Federal International Development Minister Gerd Müller presented the results of a second survey on the implementation of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP). The – sobering – finding: Only a few companies voluntarily take responsibility for ensuring that human rights are respected in their supply chains. As provided for in the coalition agreement, the idea of a national supply chain law should therefore now be pursued. The lecture takes this as an impulse to examine the project of a national supply chain law from a conflict of laws and comparative law perspective.”

There appears to be ample comparative material, as Germany is not the first European jurisdiction to consider supply chain legislation:

In 2017, France enacted the Loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d’ordre that created certain diligence obligations on major French companies. Cannelle Lavite’s recent post at Verfassungsblog provides an English language summary of the law, and its two main mechanisms, namely a civil duty of vigilance, seeking the prevention of risks and serious abuses to fundamental rights, health, safety of persons and the environment, related to business activities and a corresponding reparation and liability mechanism for breaches of this duty.

Two years earlier, the United Kingdom had passed the Modern Slavery Act that requires businesses over a certain size to disclose each year what action they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in their business or supply chain.

Professor Rühl, currently at Jena University, is the incoming professor at the Chair for Civil Law and Civil Procedure, European and International Private Law and Civil Procedure and Comparative Law at Berlin’s Humboldt University.

The photo shows the Institute’s bricks, but to attend you will only need clicks – the lecture will be at 11:00 am and is delivered via Zoom. See here for details. The lecture will be in German.

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