UKLFI Charitable Trust held a webinar entitled The Ben & Jerry’s Saga with Prof Jesse Fried and chaired by Jacob Turner on Tuesday 23 August 2022.
Last year Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, decided its ice cream should no longer be sold in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria), claiming this to be “inconsistent with our values”, and to terminate its longstanding Israeli licensee who could not accept this policy. Following this decision, Unilever’s share price fell sharply, several US states divested, leading investors criticised Unilever’s Board, and legal actions ensued.
For almost a year Unilever claimed that it could not override the decision of its subsidiary’s independent Board, but then recently did just that: as part of a settlement of a case brought by Ben & Jerry’s Israel licensee, Unilever sold the Ben & Jerry’s brand in Israel to the licensee, enabling the licensee to continue distributing the ice cream in Israel and its territories. The latest twist is that Ben & Jerry’s board has now sought to block the sale in court, claiming that its parent Unilever is breaching the merger agreement between the two companies.
Professor Fried discusses the various legal claims and issues, what may happen next, and the implications for BDS.
More about the speakers:
Prof Jesse M. Fried is the Dane Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Before joining the Harvard faculty in 2009, Fried was a Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) at the University of California Berkeley. Fried has also been a visiting professor at Columbia University Law School, Duisenberg School of Finance, Hebrew University, IDC Herzlya, and Tel Aviv University. He holds an AB and AM in Economics from Harvard University, and a JD magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
Professor Fried teaches and writes in the areas of corporate law, corporate governance, and securities regulation.
Jacob Turner is a barrister at Fountain Court Chambers in London where he specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration. He has represented States including Argentina, Greece, Iraq, and Venezuela. He has previously worked in the legal department and as a speechwriter at Israel's Mission to the UN in New York. Jacob is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lord Mance, with whom he co-authored Privy Council Practice. Jacob is also the author of Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence and regularly lectures around the world on the ethics and regulation of AI. He holds law degrees from Oxford and Harvard.