The OECD Guidelines’ grievance mechanism is known as the “Specific Instance” process. A Specific Instance raises an issue about conduct by an enterprise that is alleged to be inconsistent with the recommendations contained in the OECD Guidelines. NCPs will consider all complaints they receive, which may be brought by a community affected by a company’s activities, a company’s employees, members of a trade union, an NGO, or an individual. Generally, issues should be dealt with by the NCP of the country in which the issues have arisen. Therefore, the LVNCP generally acts on Specific Instances that make allegations related to issues arising in Latvia or regarding the activities of Latvian headquartered companies operating in countries which have not established an NCP.
Specific Instances are not legal cases and the NCP is neither a court nor a law enforcement authority nor a substitute for national legislation. NCPs cannot impose sanctions, directly provide compensation or compel parties to participate in mediation or conciliation. Dispute resolution through the NCP is intended to be consensual and aimed at identifying constructive solutions and agreeing between the parties.
Submitting a Specific Instance to the Latvian NCP (LVNCP)
To consider a potential Specific Instance’s admissibility, NCPs require sufficient detailed information from the submitter:
- Submitters must have a specified interest in the case, be in a position to supply information about it and have a clear view of the outcome they wish to achieve.
- Submitters must specify in the complaint which chapters or paragraphs in the OECD Guidelines they consider to be breached by the company.
A potential Specific Instance may be submitted for evaluation by an interested party (a community affected by a company’s activities, a company’s employees, members of a trade union, an NGO, or an individual) in accordance with LVNCP`s Rules of procedure, by completing and submitting a form for a request for review of a Specific Instance.
The LVNCP `s assessment of Specific Instances is evidence-based, and parties are encouraged to substantiate their claims with facts. Specific Instances falling outside the scope of the OECD Guidelines or complaints that are not substantiated will not be considered. If the Specific Instance is deemed to be material and substantiated, the LVNCP will offer the parties to the dispute its mediation and conciliation services.
The LVNCP will provide a formal written response to the submitter and written notification to the subject company within 14 working days of receipt of a Specific Instance. After receiving a written response to the Specific Instance from the company, the LVNCP will undertake an Initial Assessment of the Specific Instance. The LVNCP may request further information of the parties and will be open to the submission of amendments, clarifications or additional information from the parties throughout the process. The Initial Assessment does not determine whether the company has acted consistently with the OECD Guidelines, but rather is a process to determine whether the issues raised are bona fide and merit further consideration by the NCP. Where necessary, the LVNCP will seek the guidance of the OECD Investment Committee regarding the interpretation of the OECD Guidelines in particular circumstances. During the initial assessment and throughout the process, the LVNCP will encourage the parties to resolve their differences through direct dialogue.
If the LVNCP determines that the Specific Instance is material and substantiated and meets the other OECD criteria, it will contact the parties involved and offer mediation to help resolve the issues raised. In order for the mediation to be successful, the LVNCP routinely reminds parties that all sides must abide by the principle of good faith and confidentiality articulated in the Procedural Guidance to the NCP Specific Instance Process and the Commentary on the Procedural Guidance for NCPs.
The Specific Instance process can end at one of several different points:
- mediation is not offered by the LVNCP;
- one or both parties refuse the offer of mediation;
- mediation is accepted but the parties cannot reach an agreement; or
- the parties succeed in reaching agreement on substantial points in mediation.
Once the process has been deemed complete, a Final Statement will be drafted by the LVNCP and made public, after review and comment by the Parties.