In July 2019, the UK Supreme Court refused permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s judgment in AAA and others v Unilever PLC and Unilever Tea Kenya Limited 2018. The claimants in the case were both employees and former employees of Unilever Tea Kenya Limited (UTKL) and residents living on a tea plantation run by UTKL, who fell victim to inter-tribal violence when mobs came onto the UTKL’s tea plantations in which they were residing. They sought to bring a claim against Unilever and its Kenyan subsidiary, UTKL, for breach of a parent company liability and duty of care to take effective steps to protect them from this violence.
The case raises interesting questions about when there is a good arguable claim for a breach of duty of care (parent company liability), as well as when English courts are the proper forum to hear a dispute. Although the claimants did not succeed in their claim here, the case is significant for businesses as it leaves the law unclear and reiterates the importance of managing sustainability and human rights risks effectively in your organisation.
Click here to read our legal insight which provides more detail on the legal reasoning in this case and its impact on business.