This statement is made on behalf of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright Services (together, the Firm) pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the Act) and constitutes our slavery and human trafficking statement for the financial year ending 30 April 2018.
Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our Business Principles of quality, unity and integrity. These Business Principles guide our activities and staff across our offices. They describe our culture, the way we work and what we stand for. We value our people and promote a culture of respect for the individual.
This statement illustrates how we apply our Business Principles in practice and reflects our continued public commitment to challenge and confront the use of forced, compulsory, trafficked or child labour within our own organisation, our supply chains and our value chain.
Our structure, business and supply chains
The Firm has offices in Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Athens, Bahrain, Bangkok, Beijing, Brussels, Casablanca, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Milan, Monaco, Moscow, Munich, Paris, Piraeus, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Warsaw as well as a legal processing hub in Newcastle.
The Firm provides legal services to business enterprises, governments and other public sector organisations. We are focused on key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.
The Firm’s suppliers include suppliers of IT and communications equipment and services; property; office cleaning and other facilities management services; transport such as airlines and couriers; marketing such as merchandise suppliers and conference providers; office equipment and supplies; and professional services such as auditors, legal counsel, banks, insurers and recruitment agencies. The Firm also has some suppliers that provide legal or other services which are used by us in the provision of services to our clients.
The Firm has implemented a comprehensive human rights policy in 2016. The policy is supported by our Business and Human Rights training, an e-learning module which provides an introduction to the business and human rights agenda and an explanation of the main principles of the policy and their relevance to all our staff according to their specific functions.
Our Employee Handbook comprising all our employee-related policies was reviewed and amended in 2015 to take account of modern slavery. It has been followed since.
Our Ethical Reporting Policy is published on our intranet and it encourages any member of staff to report any known or suspected breach of our ethical standards including slavery, human trafficking, forced or child labour, as well as wider human rights-related issues. It guarantees that any issue can be raised in confidence and refers to examples of forced, compulsory or trafficked labour as instances which we expect to be reported.
Due diligence process and steps taken to assess and manage slavery and human trafficking risk
We have over 2,500 people (employees, partners and contractors) engaged in Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and we apply the highest possible standards in the recruitment and employment of our people.
As well as ensuring that the policies set out in the Employee Handbook are complied with, we ensure that:
- all legal obligations are complied with in the recruitment and on-boarding process with a particular focus on an individual’s right to work in the relevant country in which they will be engaged;
- we conduct an appropriate level of due diligence on our prospective employees prior to them joining the firm, including a robust selection process and taking up employment references; and
- we recruit, promote and develop our people on the grounds of merit and capability alone and have a well-developed Diversity & Inclusion policy and plan to ensure we have a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.
All staff are expected to comply with our Business Principles as well as any relevant laws and professional codes of conduct applicable to us. These ethical principles are enshrined in our employment contracts and supported by existing policies, as set out in our Employee Handbook.
The Firm conforms to the London living wage for its London employees.
Our Policy for Third Party Supply was augmented in the financial year 2015/2016 to include modern slavery screening methodology principles. At the same time we introduced our Supplier Charter that sets out our expectations of suppliers in the wider business ethics sense. Good human rights practices form one set of principles the Firm expects our suppliers to adhere to. Most of our new or renewed contracts incorporate the Supplier Charter. Members of staff and management involved in the procurement of goods and services have been trained to identify potential human rights issues and to use appropriate governance channels and protections in high risk situations. An updated Policy for Third Party Supply Contracts was sent to all authorised signatories in May 2017.
The methodology and governance processes set out above are being followed and their adoption is being monitored gradually. In 2016/2017 we conducted a review of the supplier of our principal outsourced business process operations. In 2017/2018 we progressed the review of further strategic contracts, please see the KPI section for further information. All our London suppliers are required to pay at least the London living wage to their employees.
As a provider of legal services we are required by applicable legislation and codes of conduct to take steps to identify our client and our scope of engagement. The overriding principle is that we will not act for clients in circumstances where it is illegal or inappropriate to do so. Work in relation to specific human rights issues in our on-boarding processes was undertaken in 2017/2018, please see the KPIs section for further information. Through our advisory work and the sharing of best practices we are committed to supporting our clients’ respect for, and understanding of, human rights issues and impacts, including modern slavery. Further work in relation to our client advisory services was undertaken in 2017/2018, please see the KPIs section for further information.
The Firm is committed to the sharing and dissemination of its knowledge and expertise in the area of business and human rights in order to promote capacity building amongst our clients as well as more widely on the market.
Our Human Rights Due Diligence project which was launched in October 2016 identified human rights issues in supply chains as one of the most salient human rights issues for companies. To develop guidance for our clients and a wider commercial audience we conducted, again together with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, our second human rights due diligence project, this time concentrating on Supply Chains. This project was launched in May 2018, the results were made available publicly as well as to our clients.
In addition, we hosted two modern slavery and supply chains conferences in 2017/2018 where we updated a wide company audience about current developments in the area of business and human rights and the results of our studies.
A training addressing business and human rights, reporting obligations and modern slavery issues was delivered at our July 2017 Company Secretary Forum.
We contributed an article on updated guidance on MSA reporting obligations to the PLC publication.
We participated in the Human Rights Forum in Geneva in November 2017 and, for the third time running, we presented on one of the conference panels, this time in relation to supply chain remedies.
Develop the existing client on-boarding and transaction opening process to include screening in the area of human rights for high risk clients
The Firm’s Human Rights Policy states that when opening new client matters, the Firm will “implement processes to assess potential human rights impacts and take these into consideration”.
To progress the implementation of the above principle of our human rights policy we undertook an extensive review of our client on-boarding system from a human rights point of view in 2017/2018. We have concluded that the Firm’s client and matter induction process is extensive and it already takes potential risks relating to human rights into consideration. It has been proposed that the Firm’s existing processes be further enhanced by providing subject matter-specific guidance to fee-earners as well as compliance officers to enable them to standardise both their client and matter human rights risk assessment. The guidance will be disseminated by a training programme for compliance officers as well as fee-earners. The existing Partner Quarterly Return Questionnaire is being amended to collate information on Partners’ reflection on human rights issues in relation to all of their matters.
Our overriding philosophy is to alert our clients to any human rights issues their transactions or commercial practice are raising and work with them through these issues.
Perform a due diligence review of one of the Firm’s offices outside the UK
We have started the process of the Firm’s human rights due diligence in one of the Firm’s offices which was selected primarily because of the higher human rights risk in the jurisdiction in which the office is located (Assessed Office). The first step was an in-depth risk assessment of the Assessed Office in all the human rights due diligence areas – our employees, client work as well as suppliers. This was followed with further due diligence and discussions with the Assessed Office’s staff responsible for the assessed areas. The financial year 2017/2018 work in this area was finalised by the summary of findings of the human rights due diligence process.
Progress the development of guidance and know-how for our human rights advisory services in another practice area
Following our business and human rights work for corporate finance we concentrated on our banking practice, in particular project finance as well as our shipping practice. Developments in the area of human rights and modern slavery in particular as well as our expertise and its availability have been summarised and presented to the lawyers in the above practices thus empowering the fee-earners to identify human rights issues and, where appropriate, ensure the provision of specialist advice.
Review regular monitoring of our strategic suppliers
We continued our work with the internal strategic suppliers procurement team and have adopted a strategy of capacity building. We are using our contractual review meetings to incorporate the human rights angle into the review, are entering into a dialogue with our strategic suppliers, explaining our requirements in the area of human rights to them and agreeing action which we would expect of them in order to progress their human rights work in a meaningful substantive risk-based manner. Progress will be monitored in subsequent review meetings.
KPIs for 2018/2019
As the Firm is changing its financial year to a calendar year basis, our KPIs for the rest of the year 2018 are relatively modest. Further substantive human rights work will then be carried out in 2019.
- Gain Firm-wide agreement on specific action to be implemented as a result of our client on-boarding systems and processes review.
- Gain Firm-wide agreement on specific action to be adopted in the Assessed Office and potentially on a wider basis within the Firm as a result of the human rights due diligence findings
- Prepare and deliver a training on BHR issues for fee-earners in the Firm’s project finance practice
- Prepare and deliver a training on BHR issues for clients and fee-earners in our shipping practice
We shall report on our performance against these KPIs in our 2018 Modern Slavery Act statement.
The Firm’s human rights policy training which was rolled out to our existing fee-earners in 2016/2017 is now provided to all new joiners.
We have a dedicated international Business and Human Rights Group which focuses on issues of business and human rights including modern slavery and human trafficking.
We also have a dedicated ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) group which covers the full spectrum of environmental, social and governance aspects of any relevant transactions.
The Firm’s Management Committee approved this statement on behalf of the members of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP on 15 October 2018.
The Directors of Norton Rose Fulbright Services approved this statement on 15 October 2018.
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