Law firms and businesses can set themselves apart from their competition by highlighting the steps they have taken to ensure modern slavery is not taking place internally or in their supply chains, the Law Society has said.
Chancery Lane has published a practice note on the legal requirements of the Modern Slavery Act, which came into force last year, and examples of good practice.
The note comes as solicitor-general Robert Buckland told parliament yesterday that the Crown Prosecution Service continues to see a year-on-year increase in the number of prosecutions for modern slavery.
The 2015 act requires commercial organisations with an annual turnover exceeding £36m to produce a statement on their website.
The statement must reflect steps the organisation has taken during the previous financial year to ensure that slavery and trafficking is not taking place in their supply chains or their own business.
Should an organisation fail to publish a statement, the government may seek a High Court injunction requiring compliance.
Society president Robert Bourns said: ‘Slavery is not a history lesson, it is a real and immediate problem. The solicitor profession has a valuable role in combating it, by helping to ensure that the many organisations we advise play their part in preventing slavery and human trafficking.’
Government guidance states that organisations are encouraged to publish a statement within six months of the last financial year-end.
Bourns said a respect for human rights ‘need not conflict with a company’s desire for profits and growth’.
He added: ‘A demonstrated and practical respect for human rights at every stage of the supply chain can help create jobs, promote sustainable growth, and set a company apart on the ethical standards consumers are increasingly looking for.’
As well as providing a template for drafting a statement, the Society’s practice note highlights examples of statements from nine law firms: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Linklaters, Slaughter and May, DLA Piper, Stewarts Law, Weightmans, and Watson Farley & Williams.