Western societies are witnessing an emerging socio-legal trend towards transnational civil litigation against multinational corporations in relation to harm caused to people and planet abroad. These 'foreign direct liability cases' arise against the background of a global governance gap resulting from the rapid globalization of economic actors and activities with no global institutions to manage their worldwide impacts. The increasing reliance on private law mechanisms to realise corporate accountability for violations of human rights, health and safety, environmental and labour norms perpetrated abroad raises interesting and complex issues.
This study sets out the legal and socio-political framework of this particular type of transnational civil litigation and traces the role that Western society systems of tort law may play in promoting international corporate social responsibility and accountability. It focuses on the feasibility of bringing foreign direct liability claims before domestic courts in the EU Member States - the Netherlands in particular - and sets out a number of recommendations for European policymakers.
Liesbeth Enneking is a postdoctoral research fellow at Utrecht University's Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. Over the past five years, she has shared her expertise on this subject through publications, presentations and by participating in the Dutch socio-political debate on fair trade and business & human rights.