The Role and Liability of Certification Organisations in Transnational Value Chains

Carola Glinski, Peter Rott

Abstract


Certification organisations have become important players in the monitoring of compliance with social and environmental standards. This is particularly the case in relation to corporate operators producing in or sourcing from developing countries. At the same time, some of the worst industrial disasters in recent years, such as the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan or the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, occurred after the relevant operators had been certified for their compliance with standards. This raised doubts about the care that the relevant certification organisation had exercised. This article explores potential grounds on which corporate social responsibility (CSR) certification organisations may incur liability towards third parties, in particular employees of subsidiaries or suppliers. To this end, it discusses the functions of certification generally before it analyses the potential liability of certification bodies under German and English law. It considers various circumstances under which certification takes place, including certification that is required by law, certification that is required to obtain certain benefits, such as tax reductions, certification within private CSR schemes and the entirely voluntary use of CSR certification as an instrument of supply chain control.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2018vol23no0art807

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