This LawNet panel discusses how law organises the allocation of responsibilities to transnational corporations and their representatives in the context of industrial disasters and environmental hazards across different legal forums in late capitalism.
One of the main features of law is the allocation of responsibilities. However, with regard to corporate liability and in cases of mass suffering in the context of industrial disasters and environmental hazards, we can regularly observe the breakdown of the established rules of allocation of responsibilities, often interpreted as a distinct feature of modernity. Law—to the major extent still nationally organised—struggles to keep up with transnationally organised corporations. This means that comparatively immobile law meets highly mobile transnational corporations, which results in the dispersion of responsibilities. At the same time, people and social movements mobilise this uneven legal landscape as a resource for strategic litigation to hold transnational corporations or their representatives liable for alleged wrongdoings, shifting trials to different national or international legal forums. This LawNet panel invites contributions on litigation cases in the context of industrial disasters and environmental hazards, studying how law organises the allocation of responsibilities across different legal forums in late capitalism, as well as how litigation cases provide a forum for social definitions of industrial disasters and environmental hazards. It asks how different legal norms privilege certain notions of responsibilities, while they silence others. In particular, we are interested in contributions, which discuss how the translation of an industrial disaster or an environmental hazard into a legal issue shape the environmental crisis. Finally, it invites contributions that explore definitions of responsibility at the intersection of social, legal and political spheres.