Research group for Natural Resource Law, Environmental Law and Development Law

Seminar on liability for business-related human rights violations in a group

On 12 May, Line Gjerstad Tjelflaat presented parts of her work on liability in the event of business-related human rights violations in a group for the research group for natural resource, environmental and development law and the research group for tort law.

Main content

Western companies are often involved in foreign subsidiaries in an increasingly globalised world. Human rights violations are often associated with the business community in factories, which results in Western parent companies being sued for human rights violations in subsidiaries outside their country's borders.

This situation causes several problems. In this type of lawsuit, the injured parties face several barriers to recover of material, procedural and practical nature. The lawsuits create both financial uncertainty and reputational risks for the sued companies. At its core, there is a collision between basic principles of legal objectivity and limitation of liability on one hand, and the need for companies' respect for fundamental human rights in the exercise of business on the other. There is a need to clarify the legal situation for business-related human rights violations and the extent of liability.

The legal situation is constantly evolving, including the Norwegian Transparency Act, which enters into force on 1 July 2022, and the EU's proposal for a corporate sustainability due diligence directive. In her work, Line Gjerstad Tjelflaat takes a closer look at these problems, asking questions about the shareholder's role and identification in a parent-subsidiary relationship and whether this can form the basis for liability. Furthermore, what normative expectations one can have for a Norwegian company to be able to prevent violations of human rights. This will also affect the culpa norm, but to what extent?

The research group thanks Line for an interesting presentation on an important topic!