Corporate Social Responsibility, Private Law and Global Supply Chains

Corporate Social Responsibility, Private Law and Global Supply Chains

Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series

Andreas Rühmkorf

This insightful book demonstrates that private law makes a significant contribution to the promotion of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but that with certain changes this contribution could be better. Based on the analysis of four substantive areas (company law/corporate governance, contract law, consumer law and tort law), the book covers a full range of issues that are important for CSR. These include directors’ duties, corporate reporting, the incorporation of CSR policies into the supply chain, consumer rights and the tortious liabilities of companies.

Chapter 7: The Rana Plaza building collapse – corporate social responsibility, private law and the global supply chain

Andreas Rühmkorf

Subjects: law - academic, corporate law and governance, human rights, regulation and governance


This chapter uses the Rana Plaza building collapse as a case study in order to review the limitations and opportunities of using English private law for the promotion of CSR. The disaster raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the existing CSR mechanisms in global supply chains. This case study practically complements the doctrinal legal analysis in the previous chapters of the book. The chapter discusses the limits of private law in global supply chains, for example, the business model of global supply chains in company law and corporate governance and the limits of contract law and consumer law. It then critically assesses the two most widely-known initiatives that companies have come up with in order to improve the health and safety of factories in Bangladesh: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. It then discusses the role of law for the promotion of CSR in global supply chains. It is argued that with supply chains the particular legal issues are the absence of an international law framework, the territorial limits of law and the fact that many developing countries have not sufficiently addressed CSR violations in supplier factories located within their borders. It is, moreover, argued that English private law can contribute to filling these regulatory gaps by regulating the behaviour of (multinational) companies based in the UK within their supply chain. For example, companies can be required to pursue CSR policies and to have these adequately monitored and to effectively report on these. Finally, the chapter discusses how private law can be an important element in hybrid regulatory approaches to CSR.

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