Recent decisions in the UK on parent company liability cases show the need for law reform

William Meade, CORE Coalition


The UK is home to some of the largest multinational corporations in the world operating through integrated networks of subsidiary companies and complex supply chains. Through their global activities, UK companies are often involved in human rights and environmental abuses.

There have been important developments towards improved access to remedy in the UK for victims of overseas corporate related harm over the last 25 years, culminating in the 2012 Court of Appeal ruling in Chandler v Cape which held that, under certain circumstances, a parent company could owe a legal duty of care to employees of its subsidiaries. At present, however, there is no statutory regime in the UK for dealing with alleged violations of human rights by corporate actors.

This gap has become particularly apparent in the past twelve months as several major multinationals have succeeded in persuading the courts that they are not responsible for serious human rights abuses connected to their subsidiaries’ operations.

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