Client Alerts

Robert Volterra and Suzanne Spears host International Business and Human Rights roundtable.

Volterra Fietta Client Alert
20 July 2016

Volterra Fietta, the public international law firm, is pleased to announce that Robert Volterra and Suzanne Spears, who lead Volterra Fietta’s Business and Human Rights (“BHR”) practice, will be hosting a General Counsels Roundtable on “International Business and Human Rights Compliance and Risk Management” in September at the firm’s new Fitzrovia offices. They will also establish a dedicated BHR blog together with another leading academic and practitioner in the field in the autumn.

Volterra Fietta and its lawyers have been at the forefront of the international BHR field for many years. The firm established its BHR practice to meet client demand in an area of law that increasingly occupies the attention of company general counsels and government attorney generals alike.

Volterra Fietta is a trusted advisor to businesses

Today business leaders around the world recognise that respect for international human rights norms is as material and compelling to their businesses as compliance with international tax-avoidance, anti-money laundering and foreign corrupt practices rules. Failure to comply with these norms brings legal consequences, as well as financial and reputational damage.
Comprised of public international lawyers, Volterra Fietta is ideally suited to advise on how international human rights norms, which were designed for sovereign States, are transposed into a commercial context. Volterra Fietta helps companies, investment funds, financial institutions and other businesses address the human rights related legal risks and meet the human rights compliance obligations associated with their activities and relationships.
Volterra Fietta is a trusted advisor to governments

Governments today are reminded regularly that their obligations under international human rights law extend to regulating business activities. At the same time, they ignore at their peril their obligations under international investment law to adopt regulations that avoid infringing on the legitimate rights and expectations of foreign investors.

Volterra Fietta helps governments identify ways to meet their various international legal obligations in relation to business and human rights. This includes working with governments to devise and implement laws and policies. As the top-ranked public international law practice in the world, we have unrivalled experience advising and representing States with respect to every aspect of public international law, including in the expanding field of BHR.

Volterra Fietta’s team are experts on the UNGPs

Volterra Fietta lawyers are recognised experts on the 2011 United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the “UNGPs”). The UNGPs frame much of the BHR discourse and are driving the development of international and domestic law in the area of business and human rights.

The UNGPs have already influenced other international standards, including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Equator Principles for banks and the UN Global Compact. The UNGPs are also influencing domestic legislation, as governments around the world produce National Action Plans (“NAPs”) to implement them. In the United Kingdom, which was the first to launch a NAP, the UNGPs shaped the 2013 amendments to the 2006 Companies Act (which require directors to include information about human rights issues in their strategic reports) and the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (which requires businesses to conduct human rights due diligence to tackle slavery and trafficking in their supply chains). Examples like these are multiplying.

Volterra Fietta lawyers are international dispute resolution specialists

The convergence between the conduct of business and the observance of human rights norms is particularly evident in the fields of transnational litigation and international investment arbitration. In both contexts, litigants often argue that foreign investors owe a duty of care to people in the States hosting their investments. They further argue that the standard of care applicable to business can be derived from international human rights norms. Domestic courts in a number of countries and some investor-State arbitration tribunals are beginning to agree with both propositions.

As international dispute resolution specialists, Volterra Fietta lawyers have an unparalleled ability to spot potential BHR disputes and help clients address them. To that end, we advise companies on dispute resolution clauses, human rights policies, compliance and due diligence processes, operational level grievance mechanisms, contract governance, risk assessment and mitigation, and reporting and assurance. We advise governments on legislation, international treaties, State responsibility and sovereign immunity. We also represent companies and States in dispute resolution proceedings involving BHR matters, drawing upon our public international law expertise, advocacy experience and commercial awareness.

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Volterra Fietta monitors and shapes developing trends in the law around the world relating to international business and human rights. The insights and analysis of our BHR practitioners are distributed as Client Alerts, available on the Volterra Fietta website at and soon will be available on the BHR Law Blog. For further information about Volterra Fietta’s dedicated BHR practice, click here.