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11 Nov 2021

Richard Meeran, Leigh Day (UK)

Book Abstract: Human Rights Litigation against Multinationals in Practice

‘This book reviews the current position in this field, which has developed over the past twenty-five years, designed to hold multinationals to account, legally, for human rights abuses in the Global South. The authors are practising lawyers who have litigated and led prominent cases of legal significance in this field. Although the focus is on the Global North, where most of the cases have been brought - United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, France, Netherlands and Germany – there is also a chapter on South Africa.  

The cases cited include claims: against parent companies for harm caused by subsidiary operations; for corporate complicity in violations perpetrated by states; arising in a supply chain context.   Whilst other books have included consideration of the legal aspects of many of the cases, the focus here is on the interrelated strategic and practical, as well as legal, considerations on which viability and prospects of success depend. In addition to questions of jurisdiction, applicable law, and theories of liability, obstacles to justice concerning issues such as access to information, collective actions, witness protection, damages and costs and funding regimes (including a chapter on litigation funding), and issues relating to public pressure and settlement, are discussed.  Although most of the authors act for victims, there is a substantial chapter providing the perspectives of business. Since this area of litigation has developed concurrently with, and has formed part of, the rapidly mushrooming field of business & human rights, the contextual relevance of the UNGPs is considered.’