The Law of Nations Podcast: Episode 10 – Should business and human rights disputes be arbitrated?


Joined by two of the eminent leaders in the field of business and human rights, Julianne Hughes-Jennett and Richard Hermer QC, in this episode Angeline Welsh explores what we actually mean when we talk about business and human rights disputes and whether there is a role for arbitration.  We also enter into the dangerous territory of making predictions for future developments in this area, with varying degrees of optimism.

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Julianne Hughes-Jennett is a Partner in Hogan Lovells’ international arbitration and litigation practices and head of the firm’s Business and Human Rights Group. She has extensive experience of complex, high-value commercial disputes (including ad hoc arbitrations and arbitrations under the rules of the ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICSID), focusing in particular on emerging markets in the natural resources, life sciences, TMT, Diversified Industries and Financial Institutions sectors. Her practice also includes advising in respect of alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including under the Alien Torts Statute. She contributed to the mandate of the UN SRSG on ‘Business and Human Rights’. Julianne leads the firm’s Rule of Law 2030 initiative to collaborate with clients on projects to strengthen the rule of law and is a Visiting Fellow on Rule of Law and Foreign Direct Investment at the Bingham Centre within the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

Richard Hermer QC is a barrister at Matrix Chambers specialising in public and private litigation – both domestic and international. Of particular relevance for the topic of the podcast, he has appeared in almost all the high profile private international law claims brought by foreign claimants in the English courts against multinational corporations for human rights abuses or widespread environmental damage.  His cases include the ‘Trafigura Litigation’, one of the largest group actions in ever brought in England; Bodo Community v Shell a £55million settlement for environmental damage caused by pollution in the Niger Delta; Tabra v Monterrico, a claim brought against a UK domiciled mining company by Peruvian environmental protestors for torture and Strudhadar v NERC, a claim concerning water contamination in Bangladesh.