Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home / Filing complaints / Instructions and strategy / Parallel legal proceedings

Parallel legal proceedings

OECD Guidelines complaints do not exist in a vacuum. Many address situations that have been the subject of legal actions before they are submitted to the NCP. But if there are other, ‘parallel proceedings’ ongoing in a court or tribunal, why would you want to file a complaint involving the same issues with the NCP? There are a number of reasons, including:

· The legal proceedings may be ‘stuck’ – i.e. indefinitely delayed or unreliable due to court corruption or incompetence – and therefore not a viable means of resolving the dispute.

· The Guidelines are in many ways broader than legal frameworks, and the complaint may seek to resolve aspects of a dispute that courts cannot deal with.

· The NCP may be able to function as a creative, collaborative facilitator of positive outcomes that are not available through legal action.

· In some cases, the mere filing of a specific instance can meet (some of) the goals of the complainant, like raising public awareness or solidarity among affected groups. Take care, however, if this is your goal. Some NCPs may consider complainants who use specific instances purely as an advocacy platform as acting in bad faith.

NCPs deal with parallel proceedings in different ways. Although the Procedural Guidance states that NCPs should not dismiss cases at the outset simply because of the existence of parallel proceedings, some NCPs may still do so as a matter of course. Other NCPs may take a considerably more progressive approach, starting from the assumption that parallel proceedings do not preclude consideration of a case and adopting a narrow definition of the types of parallel proceedings that could potentially lead to a case being dismissed. Progressive NCPs will actively seek ways to contribute productively to dispute resolution even in the face of a parallel proceeding. Some NCPs put the burden more on the complainant, noting that - while parallel proceedings do not automatically prompt dismissal - the NCP will generally require the complainant to show how further consideration of the specific instance would contribute to positive dispute resolution. For any NCP, the most critical consideration is whether consideration of a specific instance could create ‘serious prejudice’ to either of the parties to the parallel proceeding.

Personal tools

OECD Watch is hosted by