Corporate responsibility to respect human rights vis-à-vis legal duty of care
This chapter deals with the intersection of corporate responsibility to respect human rights and tort law in the context of complex corporate structures and business relationships. More specifi cally, it considers the relationship between a company’s duty of care, on the one hand, and the same company’s responsibility to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts linked to its operations, products or services by its business relationships, such as those concerning subsidiary companies (as a headquarters, parent, or controlling company), contractors, and other business partners. In this regard, this chapter proposes three types of legal reform: a disclosure obligation for a company as regards the control it exercises over its business partners (Scenario I), a rebuttable presumption of control a company exercises over its business partners (Scenario II), and a statutory duty for a company to conduct human rights due diligence (Scenario III). 1
The analysis builds on the answers to two consecutive surveys solicited from distinguished legal experts from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. Altogether, the authors received twenty opinions from
surveys and of this work was threefold:
1. Clarify obstacles connected to tort law that undermine the realization of corporate responsibility to respect human rights.