Thursday 28 November 18:00 - 19:30

SW1.18, Somerset House East Wing

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CEL Seminar - Modern Slavery and public procurement: an EU perspective

Government & Politics

Modern slavery and public procurement : an EU perspective


Michael Bowsher QC, King’s College London

Associate Professor Justine Nolan, Associate Dean (Academic), Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney

Professor Olga Martin-Ortega, Greenwich University


Professor Andrea Biondi, King's College London


Global antislavery efforts are increasingly focusing on tackling slavery in the supply chain. This leads to engaging with businesses to report on their compliance with antislavery legislation but has also brought a growing attention to government procurement. Governments are starting to realize that they should lead by example, ensuring that their own institutions do not purchase slavery-tainted goods or services.

The inclusion of obligations for the State in the Australian Modern Slavery Act (2018) and recent developments in the UK concerning section 54 of the Slavery Act indicate interesting upcoming developments concerning public procurement. Under Art 15 of the Australian Slavery Act, ‘the Minister must prepare a modern slavery statement for the Commonwealth, for a reporting period, covering all non‑corporate Commonwealth entities within the meaning of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013’. In the UK, the independent review of the Modern Slavery Act called in January 2019 for extending section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act to the public sector. It also emphasized that the ‘Government should further strengthen its public procurement processes to make sure that non-compliant companies in scope of section 54 are not eligible for public contracts’ and that ‘the Crown Commercial Service should keep a database of public contractors and details of compliance checks and due diligence on all relevant aspects of corporate governance carried out by public authorities’, a database that should be easily accessible to public authorities for use during the procurement Purposes.

The European Union could play an important role in the assessment and management of the risk of slavery in public procurement in the EU and its member states. In a timely moment as the newly appointed European Commission initiates a new institutional cycle, this event would focus on some of the challenges and opportunities for tackling modern slavery in public procurement from an EU perspective. Speakers will look at the European dimensions of procurement from two angles. On the one hand, they will present a comparison between the British model (which is similar to the Australian, with a Modern Slavery Act) and the model followed in some continental European countries (France´s duty of vigilance). On the other hand, they will reflect on how the EU procurement principles and rules assess or could improve assessment of slavery risks.

The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception


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