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Stop Uyghur Genocide legal bid to stop Shein listing on London Stock Exchange

Stop Uyghur Genocide has launched a legal campaign to prevent low-cost fast-fashion retailer Shein listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Posted on 26 June 2024

Represented by human rights law firm Leigh Day, the campaign group has written to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to say that any attempt by Shein to list on the LSE should be refused.

Stop Uyghur Genocide has reminded the FCA that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has already refused to recommend the listing of Shein for trading on US stock exchange because of concerns around labour practices in Shein supply chains.

The campaign group has written to the FCA because it believes Shein has imminent plans to file a prospectus with the FCA with the view to a public listing on the LSE.

It says the listing should not be allowed to go ahead because:

The UK has signed up to International Labour Organisation conventions which set out minimum standards for engaging workers. Any concerns about companies engaging workers in its supply chains which may breach those minimum standards is inconsistent with the UK’s convention obligations.

The FCA has a statutory duty of integrity and to protect its investors.

Stop Uyghur Genocide is concerned about the LSE’s ability to detect and respond to any alleged forced labour in Shein’s supply chains. As a regulated investment exchange, LSE would be responsible for oversight of Shein and would have to have in place measures to prevent any trading involving products manufactured overseas potentially with the use of forced labour.
Stop Uyghur Genocide is preparing a detailed submission to the FCA to support its letter.

In the meantime, the campaign group’s lawyers have asked the FCA to:

  • Ask for more information from Shein about the accuracy of its published Modern Slavery statement.
  • Explain the “appropriate measures” the FCA considers the LSE has in place to spot any trade in goods produced overseas in a way that would be an offence under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
  • Consider Stop Uyghur Genocide’s submissions before it decides whether to allow Shein to be listed on the LSE.
  • Refuse Shein’s listing application unless the FCA is satisfied that its products are not tainted by forced labour.

Rahima Mahmut, Executive Director of Stop Uyghur Genocide, said:  

“I am deeply concerned about Shein’s potential listing on the London Stock Exchange. At Stop Uyghur Genocide, we have been highlighting reports from national security and human rights experts which suggest state-linked companies such as Shein could be associated with egregious human rights abuses, including modern slavery, and pose ethical and security risks to businesses and citizens. Our investment community must not support companies like Shein who are reportedly linked to the Chinese State and which we believe may enable the ongoing genocidal policies against Uyghurs.”

Michael Polak, barrister and chair of Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, said:  

“The FCA’s Principles require that all firms conduct their business with integrity. A firm alleged to have involvement in goods directly produced by slave labour in the Uyghur Region creates a risk that those vital principles will be violated. We will ask the FCA to consider the expert evidence that we will provide to them before deciding on a public listing in the UK.”

Leigh Day solicitor Ricardo Gama, who represents Stop Uyghur Genocide, said:

“Stop Uyghur Genocide expects UK financial institutions to uphold the high ethical standards that they pay lip service to, and to make clear that London isn't the place to come for a ‘no questions asked’ approach to capital. At the very minimum regulators must make sure that laws in place to root out modern slavery are complied with.

Ricardo Gama November 2021
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Ricardo Gama

Ricardo specialises in environmental claims and planning law

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