On 1 January 2022, the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act will come into force in Germany. The law aims to prevent child labour, forced labour, discrimination and poor safety standards along the supply chain. Every company with more than 3,000 employees must appoint a person responsible for risk management in the company and prepare a risk analysis to identify human rights and environmental risks. In its own business and in the case of direct suppliers, the company must check at least once a year whether there is a violation of human rights or environmental concerns. As soon as risks are identified, companies must take preventive measures. Documentation requirements are introduced for this purpose. The Federal Office of Economics and Export Control checks compliance with the law and can impose fines of up to 800,000 euros.
Unfortunately, the injured parties cannot assert civil liability against the companies and their bodies on the basis of the law. Had such liability been introduced, the law would certainly have had far greater relevance and could have better served its purpose.
Still in 2019, claims by Pakistani female textile workers against the company KIK for damages due to inadequate safety precautions by its subcontractors - the factory in Pakistan burned down - were dismissed by the Dortmund Regional Court. The unsatisfactory outcome of the legal dispute was one of the triggers of the new law; all the more painful that nothing will change in the civil law situation for future victims.