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Establishing liability for multinational corporations: lessons from Akpan

Lee James McConnell (School of Law, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

International Journal of Law and Management

ISSN: 1754-243X

Article publication date: 4 March 2014




This article aims to explore the central challenges that preclude the attribution of liability to multinational corporations (MNCs) through a contextual analysis of the recent Akpan ruling of the District Court of The Hague. It considers the lack of direct regulation for multinationals at the international level and explores the procedural/substantive hurdles which pervade in the domestic systems of “host” and “home” States, in an exposition of the overall deficit in protection.


The article employs a case-based approach, utilising the judgement of a recent Dutch case concerning environmental damage in Nigeria as a vehicle to discuss parent/subsidiary liability.


The article demonstrates the procedural impediments that arise in the domestic forums of developing countries, as well as the jurisdictional challenges presented by corporate structures which preclude home State protection. Absent effective international regulation, this paper demonstrates that continued emphasis on State responsibility, particularly in developing countries, is unworkable.


The article provides a fresh illustration of the challenges to the regulation of MNCs in the light of recent case law. It contributes to an evolving literature on the wider topic of non-State actor regulation, which continues to generate significant academic debate.



James McConnell, L. (2014), "Establishing liability for multinational corporations: lessons from Akpan", International Journal of Law and Management, Vol. 56 No. 2, pp. 88-104.



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