This statement is made by Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (BLP) pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for the financial year ending 30 April 2017. It sets out the overall commitment and steps taken by BLP to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not present in our business or direct supply chain.
BLP is a law firm and limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales).
The Berwin Leighton Paisner Group, which provides legal and related services to corporates and individuals had a consolidated global turnover of £254m for the financial year ending 30 April 2017 and employs over 1200 staff. For the purposes of this statement, “BLP Group” means Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, Berwin Leighton Paisner (Services), Berwin Leighton Paisner (Germany) LLP, Berwin Leighton Paisner (HK) LLP in association with Haley Ho & Partners, Goltsblat BLP LLP and Berwin Leighton Paisner (Myanmar) Limited. None of the entities within the BLP Group (other than BLP) fall within the reporting obligation at this time.
The BLP Group is committed to carrying on its business in a responsible and ethical manner that respects the rights and dignity of individuals and the communities where it operates and provides its services. The BLP Group has a zero tolerance policy concerning modern slavery and expects the same high standards and commitment from those it does business with.
As an international law firm the BLP Group’s operations and suppliers are based all over the world. To properly and transparently address the risks of modern slavery we have developed a systematic, risk based approach to identifying and assessing the risk of modern slavery within our business and direct supply chain.
As a business which is regulated and which has a zero tolerance approach to modern slavery and comprehensive employment policies and practices (including diversity and inclusivity, equal opportunities and non-discrimination, flexible working and anti-harassment), we have assessed our own business as low risk for modern slavery and human trafficking issues.
Our initial focus has been, and will continue to be, on:
our operations in England which is the location of our largest office with the greatest number of staff and the most significant proportion of our business and turnover;
our core legal services business; and
our direct commercial supply chain.
In the last financial year ending 30 April 2017 we have:
reviewed and revised existing internal policies, including our Professional Practice Principles and Whistleblowing Policy (which defines our internal behavioural expectations), our Global Limits of Authority Policy (which sets out contract authorisation principles) and our Health & Safety Policy, which in conjunction with other processes are intended to create an holistic and integrated policy approach across our business concerning the management of modern slavery risks.
published our Ethical Business Principles (which were approved by the BLP Board) internally
established a mandatory commercial supplier on-boarding process (initially for our UK offices as a pilot phase) which promotes responsible and ethical relationships
established an internal portal equipped with tools and resources to enable staff to engage and manage direct commercial supplier relationships, including a supplier questionnaire
developed and are seeking to introduce new contractual clauses to address legal and regulatory requirements in accordance with our policy/risk assessment approach
published a Supplier Code of Conduct (which was approved by the BLP Board) as part of our direct commercial supplier management approach
continued to improve the skills and capacity of our UK based staff who deal with our direct commercial suppliers. This education and training has increased awareness of the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking across BLP and particularly amongst these key staff
undertaken risk assessments on direct commercial suppliers engaged by the UK offices to identify potential or actual risks concerning modern slavery
promoted and contributed to the legal sector’s engagement with, awareness raising and sharing of knowledge and best practice in respect of modern slavery, human rights and responsible business practices issues, by contributing to the development of International Bar Association guidance and tools on Human Rights Due Diligence for Corporate and Commercial transactions; speaking at global business and human rights conferences and events, including the Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights
taken part in a peer learning process with a number of other international law firms to discuss emerging best practice for identification and management of modern slavery risk issues in our sector.
To date we have not discovered any issues of concern. Moving forward, we are committed to assessing any situations of concern regarding modern slavery and human trafficking on a case by case basis. Our Whistleblowing Policy provides a channel of communication for staff who have concerns; we have a Complaints Policy in place should clients wish to make a complaint; and our Supplier Code encourages suppliers to raise any issues of concern with us. BLP’s Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (a position which is mandatory under applicable regulation) is also a key point of contact both internally and externally and has a regulatory duty to ensure that BLP takes all reasonable steps to comply with its statutory obligations.
During the course of the year to 30 April 2018 we aim to:
review the way in which we resource the management of our suppliers, including whether we centralise the function and appoint a procurement manager
work towards embedding our commercial supplier on-boarding and contract management approach beyond our UK focused pilot phase and consider our international operations footprint
publish communications across our BLP Group offices to raise awareness and educate our staff on modern slavery and human trafficking and the situations in which it may arise
continue to embed our processes and procedures and train relevant members of staff on the modern slavery and human trafficking elements of our commercial supplier on-boarding and contract management approach, including how to risk assess new suppliers, and current suppliers as their contracts come up for renewal, and, raising awareness about required measures when dealing with high risk suppliers
continue our dialogue with other international law firms about responsible and ethical business and supply chains with the aim of putting relevant peer learning into practice ourselves
continue to contribute to the legal sector’s engagement with this issue by contributing to initiatives in this area and speaking at global business and human rights conferences and events
continue to provide advice to and work with our clients and other entities with whom we have business relationships about how to eradicate the risk of modern slavery and human trafficking in their businesses and supply chains.
Key Performance Indicators will be:
the number of core direct commercial suppliers we have engaged with on the issue of modern slavery
training and education events and other awareness raising activities we have delivered or contributed to including, internally for BLP Group staff, for core suppliers, to clients and other entities with whom we maintain business relationships
the number of high risk supplier contracts we have reviewed and/or updated with enhanced modern slavery provisions
the number of reported concerns about modern slavery or human trafficking.