• Bangladesh's High Court has instructed the Government not to extend the Accord's jurisdiction beyond 31 May.
  • The blow comes after a writ petition was filed against the Accord by Chittagong-based manufacturer Smart Jeans.
  • The Accord has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring fire and building safety in the country.

The Bangladesh Accord has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring fire and building safety in the country's ready-made garment factories amid reports the High Court has instructed the Government not to extend the body's jurisdiction beyond 31 May.

The blow came this week after a writ petition was filed against the Accord by Chittagong-based manufacturer Smart Jeans, which had its business relationship with the organisation terminated.

According to local publication The Daily Star, Smart Jeans is primarily a supplier to members of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, but also supplies to the Accord. The company says there was an understanding between the two bodies that they will accept the inspection certification of each other in case of common factories to avoid duplication.

The Alliance's inspectors examined Smart Jeans' three factories and suggested necessary remediation works, which were completed and approved. However, the company says Accord engineers also inspected the factories and found the corrective works to be unsatisfactory.

Based on their recommendation, the Accord signatories reportedly "unilaterally terminated" ties with Smart Jeans.

According to the Daily Star, earlier on 26 October last year, the same bench of the court issued an order, asking why the unilateral decision of severing of the business ties of Smart Group with the Accord signatories will not be declared illegal.

A spokesperson for the Accord declined to comment on the temporary injunction due to the ongoing legal proceedings, but said: "There are now 140 companies that have demonstrated their commitment to maintaining long-term sourcing relationships with Bangladesh by signing the 2018 Transition Accord giving them assurance that their factories' safety is monitored and outstanding safety hazards are remediated."

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a five-year independent, legally binding agreement that was signed on 15 May 2013 between more than 220 retailers and trade unions following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka to oversee building and worker safety.

The new body – the so-called '2018 Accord' or 'Transition Accord' – extends the work already carried out by the original five-year Accord. In October last year it was agreed a Joint Monitoring Committee would be established to assess progress that the national safety regulatory body has made related to agreed readiness and handover criteria. 

More than half of the companies who signed the original Accord have now committed to the new agreement, which was set to come into effect when the current programme expires next month.

Click here to see who has signed the 2018 Accord so far.