Ralph Giles on forthcoming changes to Modern Slavery statements

Bristows IP law expert, Ralph Giles, discusses upcoming changes to modern slavery statements and offers some tips on how to draft them


Slavery and human trafficking have no place in a sustainable future, so it is likely that ESG-oriented organisations will want to do more to tackle these issues. Ralph Giles, IT lawyer and member of the SCL ESG Committee, wrote an article on the steps which companies may be required to take to be compliant with the latest version of Modern Slavery Act, and the technical measures they can incorporate to do so.

Following the announcement of a package of measures intended to strengthen the provisions of the Act, Ralph reports, the Governments recently made a commitment to review the legislation and develop a revised strategic approach by Spring 2022, which may, in turn, lead to an increased level of stringency, and additional requirements for businesses.

Changes may include the list of areas that Modern Slavery statements must cover (currently including the company’s structure, relevant policies, due diligence processes, staff trainings and more); and new standardised procedures that organisations will be required to follow in producing their statement.

It has also been confirmed that it will become mandatory for reporting organisations to submit their statement to the Government’s Modern Slavery Statement Registry.

To improve transparency, Ralph suggests that some digital technologies like blockchain may prove helpful in managing both corporate governance and the supply chain. He also recommends having a clear set of policies and procedures to identify and deal with any issues, (e.g. due diligence checks on new suppliers), and proactively engaging with suppliers to manage any risks.

Finally, Ralph provides some tips for drafting a Modern Slavery statement which go beyond the standard practice, such as requiring the other party to:

  • confirm that it has not encountered any slavery and human trafficking issues in its business or supply chains
  • notify of any breach and grant a right of termination if the issues are not promptly addressed
  • circulate its compliance obligations through its own supply chains
  • grant your company a right to audit the measures and procedures it has in place to tackle the modern slavery issue.

Read the full article on the SCL website.

Commercial and Technology Disputes lawyer and Chair of the SCL Sustainability and ESG group, Sarah Hill, has contributed to the Computer & Law Spring 2022 issue, with an article on why sustainability and ESG issues matter to SCL. Ralph Giles and Hannah Jones have also contributed to the same issue with an article on the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.










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