STICKS AND CARROTS: RYLANDS V FLETCHER, CSR, AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HARM IN COMMON LAW JURISDICTIONS
Keywords: Liability, tort, environmental harm, strict liability, corporate social responsability
AbstractThe Government of Canada is attaching unprecedented importance to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in connection with inherently risky Canadian extractive operations abroad. After surveying the inadequacy of CSR as a substitute for host state legal regulation, which is generally lacking, this paper highlights the potential of tort law, and specifically the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, to ground foreign plaintiffs’ claims for environmental harm arising out of Canadian-owned extractive operations. Given the necessarily transnational context in which such actions would play out, this paper offers a private international law blueprint for Canada’s judicial branch to embrace a “hard” role complementing the “soft,” CSR-focused approach of the executive branch.
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