On 28 April 2018, the UK-based NGO Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) submitted a specific instance against event organizing company HPower Group Limited (HPG) to the UK NCP. BIRD alleges that in the course of organizing and/or sponsoring the Royal Windsor Horse Show (RWHS), HPG and sponsoring brands Jaguar Land Rover and Rolex are linked by their business relationships to human rights abuses involving the Bahraini government, which financially sponsors several RWHS events. BIRD alleges that HPG has failed to investigate and carry out adequate human rights due diligence.
BIRD requests the NCP’s good offices to settle the complaint, including the companies putting in place effective human rights policies, human rights due diligence plans and engaging with stakeholders in relation to future events. BIRD also requests for the companies to disclose all relevant due diligence and evidence on their handling of human rights matters.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A11
- Chapter II Paragraph A12
- Chapter II Paragraph A2
- Chapter II Paragraph A7
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 4
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter IV Paragraph 6
On 8 November 2018, the UK NCP completed an initial assessment partially accepting the complaint. The NCP decided to allow the complaint against HPG in relation to the OECD Guideline’s recommendation that businesses should seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts linked to their business operations or by their business relationships. It offered its good offices for a process of mediation. The UK NCP rejected the parts of the complaint that related to Jaguar Land Rover and Rolex, since in its view the companies were not sufficiently linked to the party causing the harm for the Guidelines to apply.
The NCP offered mediation to the parties. The parties met with the assistance of an external mediator on 10 October 2019. Further negotiations took place between the parties by correspondence and telephone over the following year.
On 28 October 2020, the parties informed the UK NCP that they had reached an agreement. Their public statement on the mediation outcome stated: “As a result of the mediation process and the dialogue thereby established, HPower has committed to adopting a human rights policy which reflects the standards provided for by the Guidelines, without prejudice to whether the Guidelines apply to HPower given its small size. Accordingly, HPower takes this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to respect internationally recognized human rights.” The parties agreed that the mediation had successfully settled the matters between them and thanked the NCP and external mediator for their work.
In its final statement dated 5 January 2021, the UK NCP reminded UK businesses about the applicability of the Guidelines to all enterprises regardless of their size, sector, operational context, ownership and structure, should respect human rights wherever they operate. This includes the responsibility to conduct human rights due diligence appropriate to their size, the nature and context of operations and the severity of the risks of adverse human rights impacts.
The UK NCP also agreed to follow-up on HPG’s progress in adopting a human rights policy in six months’ time.
On 11 June 2021, the NCP contacted both parties and invited them to provide an update. HPG provided the NCP with its newly adopted human rights statement and noted that it planned to publish the statement online and communicate it to their staff. The complainant raised concerns about the implementation of HPG’s human rights statement in its internal procedures and operations as well as its brevity, as the statement did not clearly explain due diligence in practice. The complainant recommended for the statement to be revised and for the UK NCP to delay its follow-up statement to allow it to see how HPG had used the statement in practice.
In its follow-up statement, the UK NCP verified how HPG’s new human rights statement met the criteria in the Guidelines. In this respect, the NCP found that HPG’s actions were consistent with the principles and standards set out in the Guidelines.
- Company in violation
- Other companies involved
- Affected people
- Other NCP's where the complaint was filed
- Date rejected / concluded
- 5 January 2021