Thursday, December 29, 2022
Paul Verbruggen (Tilburg University), Tort Liability of Private Safety Auditors in Global Value Chains, 13 Eur. J. of Risk Reg. 4, 584-602 (2022).
Private safety auditors are key constituents of modern risk governance in Global Value Chains (GVCs). However, high-impact safety incidents causing extensive harm in and outside these chains have cast widespread doubts as to the integrity and rigor with which these commercial auditors carry out their professional services. Civil liability has been considered an important legal instrument to incentivize auditors to improve audit accuracy and integrity. Relying on English law, this article assesses to what extent this premise holds true for product safety and social auditing. It studies the liability exposure of private safety auditors for negligent auditing in GVCs. It is argued that this exposure is primarily a function of the contractual obligations these auditors undertake to perform for producers or suppliers in GVCs. This finding draws attention to the need to better understand and define the scope of the safety audits offered for risk management purposes within GVCs.