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 2019.
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 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 an innovation and 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 (BHR) 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 we undertake a number of other background checks including taking up employment references;
- 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; and
- we launched our Respect in the Workplace policy in 2019 and this was supported by a mandatory e-learning training programme.
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.
The methodology and governance processes set out above are being followed and their adoption is being monitored gradually. 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. 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”.
In 2017/2018 we undertook an extensive review of our client on-boarding system from a human rights point of view. The Firm’s client and matter induction process is extensive and it takes potential risks relating to human rights into consideration. Compliance officers have been trained to extend their KYC screening to include human rights record.
Our Partner Quarterly Return Questionnaire has been 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.
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.
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.
In the latter part of 2018 we:
- brought information about business and human rights and modern slavery developments in particular to our Asian clients based in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai;
- hosted the 4th Modern Slavery and Human Rights Conference;
- hosted a CIPS Fellows procurement event “Aligning procurement and CSR business goals” in November;
- hosted a shipping seminar on the Modern Slavery Act and human rights in the shipping industry;
- attended the roundtable at Oxford University, BHR Bonavero Institute, on developments of the business and human rights area through the law of tort;
- attended the OECD Global Forum on responsible business conduct risk prioritisation in Paris; and
- participated in the Thun Group of banks annual meeting in Thun and in the Human Rights Forum in Geneva.
KPIs for 2018
Our KPIs for 2018 were:
- Gain Firm-wide agreement on specific action to be implemented as a result of our client on-boarding systems and processes review.
- An agreement has been reached, our systems and processes have been adapted and the agreed philosophy is now being followed.
- 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.
- An agreement on action has been reached and the substantive work is being performed in 2019.
- Prepare and deliver a training on BHR issues for fee-earners in the Firm’s project finance practice
- The training has been prepared and rolled out to our project finance practice world-wide.
- Prepare and deliver a training on BHR issues for clients and fee-earners in our shipping practice
The training has been prepared and delivered.
KPIs for 2019/20
- implement the action agreed in relation to the Assessed Office;
- incorporate business and human rights considerations in additional precedents for two practice areas;
- effect human rights impact assessment in one additional international office; and
- progress the review of implementation of our third party vendor policy into our supplier management systems and processes.
We shall report on our performance against these KPIs in our 2020 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 train our fee-earners and clients on specific areas as indicated above.
We have a dedicated international BHR 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.
We have established a BHR Management Group which is steering the developments of the Norton Rose Fulbright BHR agenda and which comprises our Chief Risk Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, HR Director – EMEA, Head, General Counsel (Contracts) and the Head of our global BHR group.
The Firm’s Management Committee approved this statement on behalf of the members of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP on 14 October 2019.
The Directors of Norton Rose Fulbright Services approved this statement on 14 October 2019.
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