PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF COMPANIES BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The relation between companies and human rights is usually observed through the concept of corporate social responsibility, i.e. companies being human rights violators. However, this subject can be observed from a different angle that is gaining greater significance nowadays - the possibility for companies to protect their rights before the European court of human rights (ECtHR). The aim of this paper is to determine how the scope of human rights protection has evolved and expanded. From the basic notion of human right belonging to a human being to the idea that this term can be expanded to capture ‘human rights of companies’ (Emberland). Indisputably company’s right to property can be protected before the ECtHR, as it is officially recognised under Protocol No. 1 of the European convention on human rights. However, the case law has gradually started to expand the scope of the Convention to other rights that were not explicitly granted to companies - first by recognising procedural rights to companies, and later by recognising rights such as right to respect for private and family life (article 8), freedom of expression (article 10) and right to just satisfaction (article 41) (so-called ‘hard cases’). This expandedpersonal scope of the Convention is raising many controversies. The major concern is that granting right to companies would diminish the rights of natural persons, as companies would utilise their newfound position to avoid honouring rights of natural persons. The question is where this case law dynamics will lead us to – shall we soon be raising the issue of company’s right to life. Also, there is the issue whether shareholders have right to sue in case of violation of rights of their companies.
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