Case Studies

In order to have a solid basis for appreciating how matters stand when it comes to access to remedies in cases where businesses stand accused of human rights abuse, significant ‘incidents’ in EU Member States (and also in North Macedonia and Serbia) have been collected. Analysis of the - more than 150 - incidents will enable the main issues to be identified, in particular what factors play a role in determining access to justice or even in determining whether victims succeed in their claims: these factors are likely to include the ‘cross-border’ nature of the case, legal standing, the quality of legal advice, judicial as opposed to non-judicial mechanisms, what type of fundamental rights are affected, etc. 

 

The incidents identified cover a great variety of legal situations. For instance, in Lexbase, a Swedish company offered access to criminal records free of charge. The company was sued by individuals for defamation. The Swedish court had to decide if the company had violated the right to protection of personal data (Article 8 of the Charter) or freedom of expression should prevail.

 

In the Walltopia case, a prominent Bulgarian manufacturer of climbing walls had concerns with labour safety rules when operating in the UK and had fines imposed on it for not complying. The UK government agency, the Health and Safety Executive, brought a case relating to Article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU on fair and just working conditions.

 

In the well-known case of Vedanta, a large number of Zambian citizens claimed in the UK courts that they had suffered damage on account of pollution from a copper mine. The mine was owned by a Zambian company, a subsidiary of Vedanta, incorporated in the UK. The case concerned health, loss of income and a clean environment and UK court has allowed the case to go ahead. This case and the equally prominent case of the Ogoni 9 in the Netherlands will be subject to particularly close analysis in that they may represent a turning point.