Codes of Conduct as Private Legal Transplant: The Case of European Extractive MNEs


  • Tomaso Ferrando

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    • PhD Candidate, Sciences Po Law School, Paris. Visiting Researcher at the Public Law Department, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. Visiting Researcher at the Commercial Law Department, Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), Brazil. MSc in Comparative Law, Economics and Finance from the International University College of Turin (Italy), and an LLM and LLB from the University of Turin (Italy). Contact: Paper presented at the 9th International Workshop for Young Scholars, Peking University, Shenzen, China. The author is thankful to Huizen Chen and Eldar Haber for their insightful comments.


Corporate social responsibility is a dynamic area that cuts across a multitude of disciplines. This paper combines the notion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with the theory of legal transplant, and claims that Codes of Conduct can be interpreted as proxies of unilateral legal dissemination throughout the entrepreneurial network. By using as example four European extractive Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) (ENI SpA., Total S.A., Repsol YPF, British Petroleum), the article analyses the content of the Codes, the mechanisms and spaces of circulation, and asks questions like whether they are stretching European Union law beyond its traditional boundaries. Exposed to the legal and political relevance of MNEs, the reader is confronted with a global framework characterised by increased complexity, the continuous redefinition of internal and external spaces, deep inconsistencies and unexpressed potential. Therefore, the recognition of the current theoretical weaknesses becomes a fundamental step to critically engage with the production of new legal territories.