Pillar II. The Corporate Responsibility to Respect 

Removing the effects of loss or damage [pages 36-37]

The Government of the Czech Republic recommends that businesses who, even if only hypothetically, could encounter human rights risk should have procedures in place in case their operations cause human rights loss. The aim should be to find a peaceful solution to disputes and to provide a remedy.

Although everyone is entitled to take their dispute to a state body, i.e. an authority or a court, for an authoritative decision, judicial proceedings are not always the most appropriate way forward for all types of disputes. What is more, litigation could generate negative publicity for a business. Where the extent and nature of an infringement allow, it is advisable to seek an out-of-court settlement. While this is not suitable for all types of dispute, it can often be faster, less costly and more readily accepted by the victims.

Alternative dispute resolution can take the form of structured dialogue, mediation or arbitration. A wide panoply of remedies is available. Besides cash satisfaction, non-financial remedies should also be offered, in particular a public apology, the restoration of what has been damaged to its previous condition, the commissioning and payment of professional services (e.g. medical services, the clean-up of a water source), and the provision of non-monetary assets (e.g. replacement land, goods). The victims’ wishes and interests are of particular importance when deciding how to proceed. Safeguards to prevent a recurrence of the infringement are integral to this mechanism.

Remedial mechanisms may be applied in cooperation with other (external) entities. For example, it is possible to draw on the services of certain state bodies providing services for the out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes (the Czech Trade Inspection Authority, the Czech Telecommunication Office, the Financial Arbitrator, and the Energy Regulatory Office).

If a dispute does end up in court, businesses should not back themselves into a defensive corner. In many cases, it may be more appropriate to admit to certain individual errors that cannot be disputed and then make an attempt at reaching an agreement or conciliation.

The logical end result is the adoption of measures preventing a recurrence of any such incident in the future.

Documents and sources of information

The Office of the Government of the Czech Republic collects model documents, guidelines and materials intended for businesses to improve the performance of tasks in this chapter, and posts them on the National Corporate Social Responsibility Portal: http://narodniportal.cz/