3 Access to remedy [page 15-17]

Legal remedies provided by the State

“According to the UN Guiding Principles, States have an obligation to provide effective remedies when a company has committed human rights abuses. These include both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. …

The different ombudsmen monitor compliance with human rights. Any person who feels that they or anyone else has been treated incorrectly or unfairly by a public authority or official at a central or local government authority can lodge a complaint with the Parliamentary Ombudsmen, also known as the Ombudsmen for Justice. …

The Office of the Equality Ombudsman is a government agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the Discrimination Act. The Ombudsman is to try in the first instance to induce those to whom the Act applies to comply with it voluntarily. However, the Ombudsman may also bring a court action on behalf of an individual who consents to this. Those who violate the Discrimination Act may be found liable to pay compensation for discrimination to the person discriminated against …

Furthermore, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises provide access to remedy through the National Contact Points (NCP). … The NCP’s main task is to promote corporate compliance with the Guidelines and to help resolve problems in individual cases through dialogue and discussion.”

Companies’ own redress mechanisms

“According to the UN Guiding Principles, companies are responsible for ensuring that their operations do not infringe on human rights and, if a company has caused or contributed to adverse impacts, that it seeks to provide redress to the victim. Such redress may include apologies, financial or nonfinancial compensation or other redress agreed by the victim and the company. The situation is more complex if the company has not contributed to adverse impacts but the impacts are directly linked to its operations. In such cases, and if the company has leverage to prevent or mitigate the adverse impacts, it should exercise it.

No ready-made model exists for how a company should best organise its own grievance redress mechanism. It is for each company to assess what is appropriate on the basis of its specific circumstances. Some criteria include:

  • Transparency – enables a dialogue with those affected by the company’s actions
  • Negotiations and discussions with employee representatives – often provide a good foundation for effective measures in cases concerning employees
  • Processes for internal whistleblowers, for follow-up on whistleblowing concerns and protection of whistleblowers
  • Secure and anonymous systems for handling complaints involving people outside the company who feel that they, or others, have been or will be adversely affected by the company

To provide redress means to correct a mistake, in this context, regarding adverse impacts on someone’s human rights. It is often easier to redress adverse impacts if there are effective grievance mechanisms in the company that the victim can use so that a dialogue can be established.”