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Lecture 7

LAW 533 Lecture 7: LAW533 – Lecture 7*

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Law and Business
LAW 533
Kernaghan Webb

LAW533 – Lecture 7 McDonald’s v Steel and Morris  Where did this litigation take place? From our standpoint, in a course on CSR and the law in Canada, is the location of the litigation significant? Why or why not? o McDonald’s brought a lawsuit for defamation (a private law action; standard of proof is on a balance of probabilities) in the UK against environmental activists Steel & Morris who stated they were part of London Greenpeace, even though they’re not (to attract attention)  Can show that they were deceitful; they were “passing off” as part of Greenpeace even though they’re not o The location of the litigation is significant because the Canadian legal system is similar to the UK legal system  What are the facts leading up to the litigation? o Steel & Morris stated that McDonald’s was responsible for starvation of the third world, destroying forests, serving unhealthy foods with a risk of cancer, lying about its use of recycled paper, exploiting children through ads, and treating its employees poorly  Who is the plaintiff? Who is the defendant? o Plaintiff -> McDonald’s | Defendants -> Steel & Morris  What type of legal action is involved? o Defamation (private/tort law)  What is the legal test for liability? o Plaintiff must prove (i.e. Elements of Defamation):  Plaintiff has to show that the defendant actually communicated these statements (i.e. the defendants “published” the material -> they told a third party)  The statement tarnished the reputation of the plaintiff  Once the above is proven, the defendant will be liable unless they can establish a defence that the statements are true, or that what they said was fair comment (i.e. opinion)  What is the conclusion of the court? o Steel & Morris were both required to pay; McDonald’s won -> court backed them up that many of the statements made were not proved (i.e. vindication for McDonald’s) o On the other hand, there were some statements made that were true -> statements in regard to their treatment of animals  There was evidence to back some of these statements o Some people believed that Steel & Morris actually won -> Steel & Morris were unemployed, and this case showed that McDonald’s were bullies  McDonald’s won in the court, but lost in the public eye Other McDonald’s Material (Pork-Raising Move)  Why is McDonald’s doing the various CSR things they are doing in this material? o McDonald’s is engaging some of its critics by demonstrating concern about issues such as animal welfare  Based on a reading of the material in this chapter, has the McDonald’s CSR approach evolved? o Yes, they are now striving to provide healthier alternatives; they made the size smaller, offer apple slices instead of fries for the happy meals, and are offering salad  What are the legal dimensions to the various CSR things McDonald’s is doing? o By making CSR commitments, McDonald’s has essentially created a contract with its customers; failing to live up to those standards can result in legal issues  From a legal standpoint, what is the relevance of the McDonald’s CSR approach to others in the fast food sector? o McDonald’s acts as a role model to other companies, and can lead the industry to becoming more sustainable  From a legal standpoint, what is the relevance of the CSR approach of others in the fast food sector to the CSR approach of McDonald’s? o Others may influence McDonald’s; e.g. since it has been shown that there’s a market for people who prefer healthier foods, McDonald’s has implemented healthier alternatives in its menu Obesity Articles  Who is behind the legislation that is discussed in these articles? o In some US states, and also at the federal level, companies who were accused of causing obesity were successful in getting legislatures to implement a law that protects these companies o The schools make money by having Coke & Pepsi in their vending machines  Claim -> C & P would go to schools and sell their products, even if they knew it was unhealthy and cause obesity o C & P said they volun
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