Top Stories

September 09, 2013

Corporate Reputation

Businesses warned that tax avoidance is not a fiduciary duty to shareholders

Farrer & Co, a leading legal firm, has advised British business leaders that their duties to promote the success of a company does not equate to a positive duty to avoid tax. The Tax Justice Network of academia, NGOs and other groups sent a copy of the legal opinion to the leaders of FTSE 100 companies. It is hoped the new advice will allow corporate executives to lead companies according to their conscience, calculating the wide social impact of the decisions they make. David Quentin, a tax barrister who contributed to the legal opinion, said performance-related pay packages indirectly incentivised tax avoidance: “corporate Tax Avoidance is presented as a matter of high-minded 'fiduciary' duty, but it is probably better understood as being about personal reward", he said. (The Guardian)

Calls for a national day of action against blacklisting

The Trades Union Congress (TUC), the federation of trades union in England and Wales has called for a day of action against the practice of blacklisting: using a register of names to restrict the work of employees who are activists or have been known to raise health and safety concerns. A 2009 raid of the Consulting Association offices found a list of thousands of names. The TUC are unhappy that companies involved in blacklisting have not been held accountable to date. They are calling for a judge-led inquiry into blacklisting and for its practice to be made a criminal offence with an unlimited fine. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, stated, “It is essential that companies who have blacklisted workers own up, clean up and pay up.” (The Independent)

Supply Chain

Europe falls behind on supply chain safety

Independent auditors have revealed that 13.5 % of supply chains in Europe do not meet safety compliance standards: the figure for Africa was 6.6 %, Asia 12.7%, North America 11 % and South America 11.8%. The report by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, run by Sedex, a not-for-profit membership organisation, is a wake-up call to investors that supply chain risks are not confined to the developing world. Of all the failings in health and safety, fire risk is the largest contributor at 32%, with the manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors being most at risk. Sedex called on companies to “take a proactive stance and engage with companies in all areas”.  (Financial Times *)


UK strategy for ultra-low emission vehicles

The UK Government has launched a new strategy, Driving the Future Today, to develop the ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) industry in the UK.  The UK Government said that it will collaborate with the motor industry to achieve its aim of almost all road vehicles in the UK being low emission by 2050.  The UK Transport minister, Norman Baker, said that "as well as huge opportunities for the automotive sector, this will bring life-changing benefits to our towns and cities improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions and it will provide energy security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil imports."  The UK Government will invest £500 million between 2015 and 2020 in the development and adoption of ULEVs.  The Managing Director of the UK arm of Nissan Motors, Jim Wright, said that the company was “pleased to see that the Government's strategy sets out clear intentions that will help incentivise zero emission mobility in the UK." (Edie)


The Co-operative bans “lads’ mags” from its stores

The Co-operative Group, a diversified British retail group, best known for its high-street grocery stores, has banned the sale of so called “lads’ mags”. The decision comes after the retailer’s July demand for the magazines to be pre-packaged in modesty bags. At the time the Chief Executive Retail for The Co-operative Group, said: "As a community-based retailer we have listened to the concerns of our customers and members, many of whom say they object to their children being able to see overt sexual images in our stores.” The decision will cease the sale of popular magazines Nuts, Zoo and Front from more than 4000 co-operative stores. (The Grocer)

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