ECCJ contributes to new European Law Institute report on access to justice


The European Law Institute has released its report, Business and Human Rights: Access to Justice and Effective Remedies, elaborating key ways in which the EU can fulfill its duty to enhance effective remedy for victims of corporate abuse.  

The report’s key recommendations for improving access to justice and remedy for victims of corporate abuse include: 

Forthcoming human rights and environmental due diligence legislation must provide for a right to civil remedy.

Civil remedy cannot be substituted by other means of remedy such as administrative liability, grievance mechanisms or multi-stakeholder initiatives.  The legal duty to undertake due diligence should be formulated as a context-specific ‘duty of care’; ‘duty to prevent’ or ‘duty to exercise an expected standard of conduct’ in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and not as a ‘safe harbour’ or ‘tick-box’ requirement which excludes the judicial right of victims if the company has simply taken certain procedural steps.  Evidentiary burdens to prove proper due diligence must be placed on companies and not victims-claimants. 

The applicability of collective redress for all types of corporate harm.

Given that most business and human rights cases involve mass harm situations, the EU should ensure the horizontal applicability of collective redress and expand on existing sector-specific collective redress measures.  A high level of discrepancy should be afforded to judges when managing collective redress cases, in particular in relation to forming a collective claim; standing and representation. These recommendations are based on the UNIDROIT model rules for civil procedure

The reform of private international law rules to enhance victim’s right to remedy.

Brussels I bis Regulation (on jurisdiction) should be amended to enable the joining of foreign companies to EU civil proceedings and rules on applicable law (Rome II) enhanced.

The European Law Institute is a leading transnational research institute for European Law and legal development. The report was produced in collaboration with the European Fundamental Rights Agency. ECCJ was a contributor to the report.