Corporate liability for modern slavery

Published date11 October 2021
Date11 October 2021
Subject MatterAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorKadriye Bakirci,Graham Ritchie
Corporate liability for
modern slavery
Kadriye Bakirci
Faculty of Law, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, and
Graham Ritchie
W Legal Ltd, London, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to providean overview of evolving developments in international,
regional and EU law including the UK and Turkish jurisdictionsfor the liability of corporate businesses for
modern formsof exploitative labour practices described as the modernforms of slavery.
Design/methodology/approach In the f‌irst part, this paper outlines international, regional and EU
instruments, UK and Turkish jurisdictionsin relation to modern forms of slavery. The second part reviews
legal frameworksfor corporate liability for modernforms of slavery.
Findings Slavery, slavery-likepractices or some other exploitative practices are prohibited by numerous
international law instruments starting from 1904. Apart from old forms of def‌ined exploitative practices,
multiple relevantcurrent exploitative practices, calledcontemporary or modern forms of slavery existall over
the world. Under various international or regional conventions signatory States have been held responsible
for exploitative practices by the international or regional courts or supervisory bodies, yet businesses were
largely overlooked as a participatingpartner in the global movement to eradicate modern forms of slavery.
For many years, multi-national businesses have engaged with various voluntary international corporate
social responsibilityinitiatives in response to demands tooperate in a socially responsible manner. Thereis a
growing global recognition of the role corporate businesses can and should play in tackling crime and
exploitative practices. A number of initiatives at the international and EU level and the introduction of the
CaliforniaTransparency in Supply Chains Act, (2010 effective from 2012),the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015,
the French Act on Due Diligenceof Corporations and Main Contractors 2017 (loi sur le devoir de vigilance), the
AustralianCommonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018, the Dutch Child Labour Due DiligenceAct 2019, (which
is due to come intoeffect in mid-2022), ref‌lect this recognition.
Originality/value This paper argues thatit is important for companies to use available tools, participate
in joint initiatives and advocate for binding international and regional instruments and effective national
legislationand action all aimed at ending business involvement in modern forms of slavery.
Keywords Modern slavery, Contemporary forms of slavery, Corporate liability, International law,
EU law, UK law, Turkish law
Paper type Viewpoint
Modern slavery is an update of the term contemporary forms of slaverywhich has been
used for decades by theUN to address the same issues [1].
There is no globally agreed def‌inition of modern slavery(Scarpa, 2018); however, it is
being increasingly used by advocacy groups, international organisations and governments
to refer to a wide range of exploitativepractices.
Although modern slavery is not def‌ined in law, it is used as an umbrella term that
focuses attention on commonalities across these legal concepts covering multiple forms of
exploitation including both def‌ined and undef‌inedconcepts under international or regional
law. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation where a person cannot refuse or leave
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.29 No. 2, 2022
pp. 576-588
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-09-2021-0189
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:

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