The Rule of Law is an essential prerequisite for businesses to thrive. The Rule of Law creates the necessary environment for democratic governance, human dignity and economic prosperity and ensures predictable rules, equal treatment, access to efficient and timely justice, and respect of human rights and international rules. The Business Network was launched in 2017 to support leading companies to defend and promote the Rule of Law in their countries of operation. Founded on the understanding that the collective voice is stronger than a single corporate voice, the Network allows for businesses to amplify their voice and influence policy making by informing the research programme of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law (the Bingham Centre) and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL). Through the Network, businesses exchange knowledge and work collaboratively through participation in meetings, research, events and capacity building initiatives.
"Having been a part of the Business Network for the last five years, I have found the opportunity to discuss Rule of Law issues with my peers in the industry through the network really useful. It has been very rewarding to be able to contribute a business lens to the vital research undertaken by the Bingham Centre [and PEC], and to bring a Rule of Law perspective back into Rolls-Royce". Companies encounter Rule of Law risks every day. As General Counsel, I see the challenges created when the Rule of Law is absent or eroded. I believe that businesses can take action to build and sustain the Rule of Law in their countries of operation, which is why I'm delighted to be chairing the Bingham Centre's Business Network. The Business Network provides for open dialogue and collaboration between companies facing often very similar Rule of Law challenges in their daily operations".
Business Network Co-Chair and General Counsel at Rolls-Royce
"The BN differentiates from others in that it is more plugged into a non-business framework. It links business to academic and research institutions to influence better policy making, rather than being simply a business lobbying forum".
Business Network Co-Chair and General Counsel Corporate and Deputy Company Secretary at Diageo plc
Benefits of Membership
- Quarterly meetings provide a forum for members to identify and exchange learning on Rule of Law issues in their countries of operation. Priority Rule of Law issues that are regularly discussed include those related to international trade, human rights, corruption, and climate change. Discussions are confidential and with respect for competition law, enabling members to share challenges affecting their business and discuss strategies to mitigate or overcome these in confidence. Discussions at meetings inform the research agenda developed by the Bingham Centre and BIICL.
- Access to leading experts who are invited to share relevant research findings or practical tools with the members and lead Q&A sessions. These experts, both external and from within BIICL, bring new perspectives, insights and guidance on topics of relevance for business.
- Opportunities to support and contribute to research undertaken by the Bingham Centre and BIICL. Through consultations, roundtables, interviews and surveys, Business Network members work closely with BIICL's highly experienced researchers, who work across nearly all areas of law. Business Network members have participated in a number of projects, including related to conflicts between national law and international human rights standards, the implications of a 'no deal' Brexit , and the due diligence requirements to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights and environmental harms. Research has an applied focus and is designed to have a practical impact on policy-making and decision-making at all levels.
- Complimentary membership to BIICL's Competition Law Forum (CLF) which would normally cost £3,500 plus VAT per year. Established nearly 20 years ago, the CLF provides an independent forum for debate and analysis among senior figures in competition law. It produces leading-edge applied research, analysis and recommendations on the content, methodologies and application of current and future competition policy at all levels of governance - national, European and global. The CLF brings together senior business managers, economists, lawyers, public servants, public affairs professionals, consumer bodies and other specialist practitioners through regular private meetings, seminars and conferences organised for CLF members.
- Invitations to attend events convened by BIICL and the Bingham Centre, including specialist business briefings on recently published research. Business Network members also enjoy regular updates on activities through the BIICL e-newsletter and the Bingham Centre's Weekly Update (e-bulletin).
- Opportunities to review and discuss research findings on modern slavery in global supply chains by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) before their publication. The PEC is a consortium of six academic organisations, led by the Bingham Centre and created by the investment of public funding, to enhance understanding of modern slavery and transform the effectiveness of laws and policies designed to address it. The PEC funds and co-creates high quality research with a focus on policy impact, and brings together academics, policymakers, businesses, civil society, survivors and the public on a scale not seen before in the UK to collaborate on solving this global challenge. The outputs, recommendations and knowledge developed through the PEC are therefore of critical value to the many businesses trying to strengthen their response to modern slavery. Through consultations and roundtables, there are also opportunities for businesses to shape and contribute to the research agenda of the PEC on modern slavery in supply chains.
The Business Network meets quarterly.
Example topics of discussion within the Network have included: 1) analysis of the legislation brought by the UK government at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2) challenges with the Rule of Law in overseas jurisdictions and at home, 3) the EU mandate and incoming legislation on Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HRDD) in supply chains, 4) the effectiveness of import bans.
The Bingham Centre's Business Network, initially chaired by Graham Vinter, formerly of BG Group was launched on 18 January 2017.
FTSE100 leaders, BP, BT, Diageo, HSBC, Shell, Unilever, and Vodafone pledged their support as founding members of the Business Network.
The event was opened by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, The Lord Chief Justice who welcomed this new initiative and encouraged other leading global companies to get involved.
Lord Thomas noted:
'We are world leaders in business law; we are becoming world leaders in adapting our court system to operateefficiently through the use of technology. I very much hope that the benefit to all our businesses, especially those whose operations in countries where the legal systems are not as developed, really will see the benefit of change.The opportunities are amazing. Many countries look to us as leaders. It is that long-term benefit to all our international companies that we should see as a prize we cannot let go. We therefore need a body like the Bingham Centre to give coherence to the great potential I have outlined.'
He was joined on the panel by Siobhan Moriarty, Diageo Chief Counsel who stated:
'For Diageo effective rule of law provides the clarity and structure enabling us to carry on business in an environment that mitigates the risks and challenges I referred to earlier and also works for the greater good.'
You can read the full transcript of Ms Moriarty's speech here.
Guy Beringer, Co-Chair of the Bingham Development Board, brought proceedings to a close. Explaining that:
'The Bingham Business Network is essentially about corporate risk and its management. We believe that the rule of law lies at the heart of a number of uncharted and intractable areas of risk for the modern international business.'
You can read the full transcript of Guy Beringer's speech here.
Contact & Get Involved
The Business Network is open to companies of any size and from any part of the world, providing they have a demonstrable commitment to advancing the Rule of Law globally. Members pay an annual membership and are invited to participate in and support BIICL projects.
If you are interested in finding out how your company can get involved please contact:
Meetings and Research Programme
Sofia Gonzalez De Aguinaga