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UCL to establish new centre for ethics and law

Publication date: Oct 22, 2009 3:10:41 PM

UCL (University College London) has announced a collaboration with industry leaders to establish a new Centre for Ethics and Law. UCL, Norton Rose LLP, Ernst & Young and the Institute of Business Ethics have secured support from six founding corporate supporters: AstraZeneca, BAE, BP, Constellation Brand Inc, HSBC and Nestle.

The new Centre for Ethics and Law will bring together general counsel and group compliance chiefs from the six founding corporate supporters. Continued dialogue with these industry leaders and the broader business community will be a key feature of the Centre, which will be officially launched by an inaugural lecture on 21 October entitled "Risk and Regulation", which will be given by Professor Jonathan Wolff and chaired by Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls.

The initiative reflects the growing need for enhanced collaboration between academics, practicing lawyers and industry, given the fast changing and increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the global issues lying at the intersection between law and ethics.

Drawing expertise from a wide range of disciplines (law, economics, philosophy, as well as engineering, geophysics, medicine etc.), the Centre will facilitate interdisciplinary research and practice-oriented collaboration in three key areas: ethics of risk, professional ethics and distributive justice.

The Centre will

· Act as a focal point for intellectual leadership and the exchange of ideas between academics, practitioners, and industry;

· Seek to support the rebuilding of trust between society and business by developing intellectual frameworks and fora to underpin the assessment and discussion of ethical conduct.

The Centre’s programme will provide a series of high level seminars and case study-based workshops, specifically aimed at senior management, which will culminate in a CEO summit and an executive development Course.

UCL Dean of the Law Faculty Dame Hazel Genn said: “UCL is very keen to engage with people outside academia and to contribute to the wider community. This is a key part of the Law Faculty’s mission and the University’s contribution to Global Challenges. “

Ian King, Chief Executive BAE Systems, said: "We are committed to becoming recognised as a leader in responsible business conduct within the global business community. To realise this aspiration it is vital that we achieve the same degree of rigour and pursuit of continuous improvement in business conduct and corporate responsibility as we currently do in our financial and programme management. Our focus is total performance against every aspect of theway we do business."

Stephen Green, the Chairman of HSBC, in a recent book called “Good Value: Reflections on money, morality and an uncertain world” commented: “It is the job of the corporate board - and one which by its nature will never be complete – to promote and nurture a culture of ethical and purposeful business throughout the organisation. This is true not only for banks at a time of extraordinary crisis and massive failure of public trust in the financial system but for all businesses at all times. And the good news is that the vast, vast majority of those who work in these organisations want this.”

Paul Grimwood, CEO Nestlé UK and Ireland, said: "We are honoured to be part of the UCL Centre for Ethics and Law. Ethics and business cannot be seen to be separate from each other, they need to go hand in hand. At Nestlé we are committed to operating in a socially responsible way and operate within the framework of our Nestlé Corporate Business Principles. We have always combined meeting the needs of our consumers and shareholders with a commitment to respect the people, environment and communities in which we operate – we call this creating shared value – it is a principle that has underpinned the way we have always conducted our business over the last 140 years."

Philippa Foster-Back, Institute of Business Ethics, commented: “Some original thought around ethics is needed - we are lost in an ethics debate.”

Sam Eastwood, Norton Rose LLP, commented: “This initiative is being driven by those who understand the increasing importance of business ethics and the need for shared best practice. We look forward to contributing to it.”

John Smart of Ernst & Young commented: "Ernst & Young are delighted to be associated with the UCL Centre for Ethics and Law.  Ethics and integrity are at the core of what Ernst &Young stands for and engaging with academics and corporates on a broad ethical agenda will allow us to develop our thinking and explore the practical application of ethics with our clients."

Notes for Editors

1. For more information or to set up a UCL interview, please contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9728, mobile: +44 (0)7881 833 274, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: j.gimpel@ucl.ac.uk.

2. For more information or to set up an interview with one of our corporate partners, please contact the Centre Administrator, Kimberlee Moran on tel: +44 (0)207 679 4556, e-mail: k.moran@ucl.ac.uk

3. For more information on the Centre for Ethics and Law please visit www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/law-ethics