Update on the responsibility to respect human rights and parent company liability: what the Court of Appeal's judgment in Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another means for UK multinationals

In the last four months, the Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in two important cases relating to parent company liability and jurisdiction over extra-territorial human rights impacts.  In October, we wrote that the first of these cases (Lungowe and others v. Vedanta and KCM [2017] EWCA (Civ) 1528) created a “Catch 22” for English domiciled multinationals – by fulfilling the responsibility to respect and implementing group human rights policies, they risked increasing the likelihood of a duty of care arising which could be used to establish jurisdiction.  The judgment handed down last week in Okpabi and others v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another [2018] EWCA Civ 191 goes some way to resolving this Catch 22 and provides some useful guidance on how responsibly to manage human rights risk without inadvertently increasing the risk of litigation.

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