Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs

Human Rights and Corporate Wrongs

Closing the Governance Gap

Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series

Simon Baughen

The effects of globalisation, together with the increase in foreign investment and resource development within the developing world, have created a context for human rights abuses by States in which transnational corporations are complicit. This timely book considers how these ‘governance gaps’, as identified by Professor John Ruggie, may be closed. Simon Baughen examines the status of corporations under international law, the civil liability of corporations for their participation in international crimes and self-regulation through voluntary codes of conduct, such as the 2011 UN Guiding Principles.

Chapter 6: Tort claims against transnational corporations in the UK

Simon Baughen

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, law - academic, corporate law and governance, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Over the last 20 years London solicitors, Leigh Day, have taken on a number of cases involving pollution, industrial injury, human rights abuses by transnational corporations (TNCs) which have occurred in developing countries. These cases have seen the development of tort law as a means of obtaining compensation and deterring bad practice by impacting on reputation. There are four hurdles to surmount in bringing such claims before the courts of the UK. First, there is the need to establish jurisdiction. Second, there is the need to find a way round the separate corporate personality of the English parent company and its foreign subsidiary. Third, there is the need to establish the applicable law governing the tort claim. Fourth, there is the need to be able to fund the litigation. In the UK jurisdiction is based on the Brussels Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 and on the common law rules. For legal proceedings instituted on or after 10 January 2015, the applicable law is now to be found in Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 on jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (recast) (the Judgments Regulation). As well as introducing some substantive changes to the Brussels regime, there has been a consequential renumbering of existing provisions. Article 2 (now Article 4) of the Brussels Regulation requires the court to exercise jurisdiction over a defendant domiciled within the jurisdiction.

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