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Going Green – Entering a Judicial Grey Zone? Corporate Social Responsibility and the Shipping Business

Holmgren, Christina LU (2010) JURM01 20101
Department of Law
Abstract
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has during the last decade become an increasingly relevant concept. Most Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) have formulated Corporate Codes of Conduct, and many have also joined international initiatives focusing on CSR, such as the United Nations Global Compact. Through globalisation, deregulation, paradigm shifts and not least the development of information technology; consumer awareness has increased and brand equity has become essential to MNEs. Translated to the shipping business, as more consumers consider e.g. environmental features important in their purchasing decisions, shippers and carriers alike in the maritime chain of responsibility have a keen interest in communicating the “green”... (More)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has during the last decade become an increasingly relevant concept. Most Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) have formulated Corporate Codes of Conduct, and many have also joined international initiatives focusing on CSR, such as the United Nations Global Compact. Through globalisation, deregulation, paradigm shifts and not least the development of information technology; consumer awareness has increased and brand equity has become essential to MNEs. Translated to the shipping business, as more consumers consider e.g. environmental features important in their purchasing decisions, shippers and carriers alike in the maritime chain of responsibility have a keen interest in communicating the “green” attributes of their products and services.
Although CSR-measures largely are voluntary and non-binding, there are regulatory frameworks covering the making and keeping of promises, such as contract and market law, and by being brought into and activating such frameworks; CSR-measures may confer legal implications.

The purpose of the thesis is to explore the wider legal implications of CSR, with focus on the environmental aspect, as applied to the shipping business. It intends to present a bird’s eye view of the topic to the legal layman as well as to the legal reader; to serve as legal overview to the shipper or carrier, and to give the jurist an insight into the shipping business.

The thesis initially outlines the history, development and various concepts of CSR, highlighting motives and stakeholders and exemplifying international initiatives. The findings are then applied to the shipping business, elucidating the significance of CSR for shippers and carriers; also discussing the general status of CSR-measures as constituting soft law.
Within this framework, with a starting point in a business transaction concluded in Sweden, the possible legal implications of CSR-measures under English and Swedish contract law are explored, in terms of interpretation and breach of contract, outlining available remedies. Using the example of an environmental commitment-clause in a transportation framework agreement, the investigation suggests that, depending on the actual circumstances of the case in question, contractual liability may arise.
Further, the possible legal implications of CSR-measures under Swedish market law are investigated, focusing on marketing practices, unfair commercial practices and outlining available sanctions. Due to its influence on Swedish market law, a comment is also made on European Union (EU) market law. Using the example of a carrier marketing its environmental commitment towards a shipper, the investigation suggests that, depending on the actual circumstances of the case in question, misleading marketing practices may be at hand.
The comparative comments in the summarising analysis indicate that under English contract law, parties need to look after their own interests to a greater extent than under Swedish contract law. Similarly, comparative comments on EU and Swedish market law highlight the greater protection of not only consumers, but also companies, under the latter.
The concluding discussion as to the future legal status of CSR, especially as applied to the shipping business, suggests enforcement and enhancement of already available legal systems and organs as a viable alternative; leading to common guidance on concepts and methods of implementation, and removing uncertainty as to legal status. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) har under det senaste decenniet blivit ett allt mer relevant koncept. De flesta multinationella företag (Multinational Enterprises, MNEs) har formulerat uppförandekoder och många har också anslutit sig till internationella initiativ som fokuserar på CSR, som exempelvis Förenta Nationernas Global Compact. Genom globalisering, avreglering, paradigmskiften och inte minst utvecklingen av informationsteknologi, har konsumentmedvetenheten ökat och varumärkeskapitalet blivit essentiellt för MNEs. Översatt till sjöfartsnäringen, med fler konsumenter som överväger exempelvis miljöegenskaper vid sina köpbeslut, har både befraktare och transportörer i den maritima ansvarskedjan ett starkt intresse av att... (More)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) har under det senaste decenniet blivit ett allt mer relevant koncept. De flesta multinationella företag (Multinational Enterprises, MNEs) har formulerat uppförandekoder och många har också anslutit sig till internationella initiativ som fokuserar på CSR, som exempelvis Förenta Nationernas Global Compact. Genom globalisering, avreglering, paradigmskiften och inte minst utvecklingen av informationsteknologi, har konsumentmedvetenheten ökat och varumärkeskapitalet blivit essentiellt för MNEs. Översatt till sjöfartsnäringen, med fler konsumenter som överväger exempelvis miljöegenskaper vid sina köpbeslut, har både befraktare och transportörer i den maritima ansvarskedjan ett starkt intresse av att kommunicera de ”gröna” attributen hos sina produkter och tjänster.
Även om CSR-åtgärder i stort ses som frivilliga och ej bindande, finns det regelverk som gäller avgivandet och infriandet av löften, som exempelvis avtals- och marknadsrätt, och genom att föras in i och aktivera sådana regelverk, kan CSR-åtgärder medföra rättsliga konsekvenser.

Syftet med uppsatsen är att utforska de rättsliga konsekvenserna i vid mening av CSR, med fokus på miljöaspekten, applicerat på sjöfartsnäringen. Den avser att presentera ämnet ur ett fågelperspektiv för lekmannen såväl som den juridiskt utbildade läsaren; att fungera som en rättslig översikt för befraktaren eller transportören, samt ge juristen en inblick i sjöfartsnäringen.

Initialt beskriver uppsatsen CSRs historia, utveckling och olika koncept, framhäver motiv och intressenter samt exemplifierar internationella initiativ. Slutsatserna appliceras sedan på sjöfartsnäringen, belyser betydelsen av CSR för befraktare och transportörer; samt diskuterar den allmänna statusen av CSR-åtgärder som utgörande ”soft law”.
Inom detta ramverk, med utgångspunkt från en affärstransaktion i Sverige, utforskas de möjliga rättsliga konsekvenserna av CSR-åtgärder under engelsk och svensk avtalsrätt, med avseende på avtalstolkning, avtalsbrott och tillgänglig gottgörelse. Med användande av ett exempel av en miljöåtagande-klausul i ett ramavtal för transport antyder undersökningen att, beroende på omständigheterna i det enskilda fallet, kontraktsansvar kan uppkomma.
Vidare undersöks de möjliga rättsliga konsekvenserna av CSR-åtgärder under svensk marknadsrätt, med fokus på marknadsföringsåtgärder, otillbörlig marknadsföring och möjliga sanktioner. På grund av dess inflytande på svensk marknadsrätt, görs även en kommentar om Europeiska Unionens (EU) marknadsrätt. Med användande av ett exempel av en transportör som marknadsför sitt miljöengagemang till en befraktare, antyder undersökningen att, beroende på omständigheterna i det enskilda fallet, vilseledande marknadsföring kan vara vid handen.
De komparativa kommentarerna i den summerande analysen indikerar att under engelsk avtalsrätt behöver parter bevaka sina egna intressen i högre grad än under svensk avtalsrätt. På liknande sätt framhävs i komparativa kommentarer om EU- och svensk marknadsrätt det större skyddet av inte bara konsumenter, utan även företag, under den senare.
Den avslutande diskussionen angående den framtida rättsliga statusen av CSR, särskilt vid applicering på sjöfartsnäringen, antyder förstärkning och förbättring av redan tillgängliga rättsliga system och organ som ett livskraftigt alternativ; medförande allmän vägledning angående koncept och implementeringsmetoder samt undanröjande av osäkerhet kring rättslig status. (Less)
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author
Holmgren, Christina LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM01 20101
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Maritime Law
language
English
id
1627671
date added to LUP
2010-07-07 14:21:08
date last changed
2010-07-07 14:21:08
@misc{1627671,
  abstract     = {Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has during the last decade become an increasingly relevant concept. Most Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) have formulated Corporate Codes of Conduct, and many have also joined international initiatives focusing on CSR, such as the United Nations Global Compact. Through globalisation, deregulation, paradigm shifts and not least the development of information technology; consumer awareness has increased and brand equity has become essential to MNEs. Translated to the shipping business, as more consumers consider e.g. environmental features important in their purchasing decisions, shippers and carriers alike in the maritime chain of responsibility have a keen interest in communicating the “green” attributes of their products and services.
Although CSR-measures largely are voluntary and non-binding, there are regulatory frameworks covering the making and keeping of promises, such as contract and market law, and by being brought into and activating such frameworks; CSR-measures may confer legal implications.

The purpose of the thesis is to explore the wider legal implications of CSR, with focus on the environmental aspect, as applied to the shipping business. It intends to present a bird’s eye view of the topic to the legal layman as well as to the legal reader; to serve as legal overview to the shipper or carrier, and to give the jurist an insight into the shipping business. 

The thesis initially outlines the history, development and various concepts of CSR, highlighting motives and stakeholders and exemplifying international initiatives. The findings are then applied to the shipping business, elucidating the significance of CSR for shippers and carriers; also discussing the general status of CSR-measures as constituting soft law.
Within this framework, with a starting point in a business transaction concluded in Sweden, the possible legal implications of CSR-measures under English and Swedish contract law are explored, in terms of interpretation and breach of contract, outlining available remedies. Using the example of an environmental commitment-clause in a transportation framework agreement, the investigation suggests that, depending on the actual circumstances of the case in question, contractual liability may arise. 
Further, the possible legal implications of CSR-measures under Swedish market law are investigated, focusing on marketing practices, unfair commercial practices and outlining available sanctions. Due to its influence on Swedish market law, a comment is also made on European Union (EU) market law. Using the example of a carrier marketing its environmental commitment towards a shipper, the investigation suggests that, depending on the actual circumstances of the case in question, misleading marketing practices may be at hand. 
The comparative comments in the summarising analysis indicate that under English contract law, parties need to look after their own interests to a greater extent than under Swedish contract law. Similarly, comparative comments on EU and Swedish market law highlight the greater protection of not only consumers, but also companies, under the latter. 
The concluding discussion as to the future legal status of CSR, especially as applied to the shipping business, suggests enforcement and enhancement of already available legal systems and organs as a viable alternative; leading to common guidance on concepts and methods of implementation, and removing uncertainty as to legal status.},
  author       = {Holmgren, Christina},
  keyword      = {Maritime Law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Going Green – Entering a Judicial Grey Zone? Corporate Social Responsibility and the Shipping Business},
  year         = {2010},
}