Universiteit Leiden

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Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI)

Corporate environmental compliance

When all else fails: Public trust and public action in the Tata Steel case

In May 2021, interest groups and several hundreds of local residents collectively filed charges against Tata Steel, a large steel company in the Netherlands. The charges focus on Article 173a of the Dutch Criminal Code: intentionally and unlawfully bringing substances into the soil, air, or surface waters, which could endanger public health or someone’s life. In February 2022, the Public Prosecution Service announced criminal investigations into the matter.

This case study focuses on two aspects of the Tata Steel case: public trust and public action. First, the research examines which factors foster (or harm) local residents’ trust in the relevant legal and political institutions. Second, the research examines which processes can explain the public attempt to bring Tata Steel and its directors before a criminal court. The research aims to gain a better understanding of these issues through qualitative methods, combining an analysis of media coverage with focus groups.

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