Enforcing Corporate Social Responsibility Codes Under Private Law, Or: On the Disciplining Power of Legal Doctrine

13 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2015 Last revised: 27 Aug 2017

See all articles by Jan M. Smits

Jan M. Smits

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI)

Date Written: October 8, 2015

Abstract

A central question in the debate on corporate social responsibility is to what extent CSR Codes can be enforced among private parties. This contribution argues that this question is best answered by reference to the applicable doctrinal legal system. Such a doctrinal approach has recently regained importance in American scholarship, while it is still the prevailing method of legal analysis in Europe. Applying a doctrinal analysis of CSR Codes allows to make the possibility of private law enforcement, i.e. enforcement by means of contract or tort, dependent on three different elements: the exact type of claim that is brought, the evolving societal standards about the binding nature of CSR Codes, and the normative complexity of the doctrinal system itself. This approach allows to make a typology of cases in which the enforceability of CSR Codes can be disputed. It is subsequently argued that societal standards have not yet reached the stage where the average consumer who buys a product from a retailer can keep that retailer legally liable for violations of the norms incorporated in the code.

Keywords: CSR, Binding nature of corporate social responsibility, Typology of cases

Suggested Citation

Smits, Jan M., Enforcing Corporate Social Responsibility Codes Under Private Law, Or: On the Disciplining Power of Legal Doctrine (October 8, 2015). Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 24, pp. 99-113, 2017; Maastricht European Private Law Institute Working Paper 2015/09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2671496 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2671496

Jan M. Smits (Contact Author)

Maastricht University Faculty of Law - Maastricht European Private Law Institute (M-EPLI) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, NL-6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.jansmits.eu

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