The European le­gis­lat­or has made the pro­tec­tion of vic­tims one of its key pri­or­it­ies in the last sev­er­al years. With the im­ple­ment­a­tion of Dir­ect­ive 2012/29/EU on min­im­um stand­ards for the rights of, sup­port for, and pro­tec­tion of vic­tims, it has strengthened vic­tims’ rights, in gen­er­al, and the pro­tec­tion of es­pe­cially vul­ner­able vic­tims of hate crime or or­gan­ized crime, in par­tic­u­lar, and im­proved their ac­cess to justice. The dir­ect­ive was trans­posed in­to Ger­man law on 21 Decem­ber 2015 as the 3rd Re­form of the Vic­tims’ Pro­tec­tion Act.

Against this back­ground, the pro­ject “Vic­tims and Cor­por­a­tions – Im­ple­ment­a­tion of Dir­ect­ive 2012/29/EU for vic­tims of cor­por­ate crimes and cor­por­ate vi­ol­ence” ad­dresses a par­tic­u­larly sig­ni­fic­ant but barely re­searched group of vic­tims, namely the vic­tims of cor­por­ate crime and cor­por­ate vi­ol­ence. These vic­tims suf­fer ser­i­ous bod­ily harm or even death as a res­ult of wrong­do­ing in the course of gen­er­ally leg­al busi­ness activ­it­ies – for ex­ample, as a res­ult of en­vir­on­ment­al pol­lu­tion, un­safe products, or lack­ing work­place safety.

The harm­ful ef­fects for in­di­vidu­als are not al­ways im­me­di­ately re­cog­niz­able, as dam­age to health can take years to de­vel­op and its source is not al­ways read­ily ap­par­ent. This makes pro­sec­u­tion and en­force­ment, e.g., claims for com­pens­a­tion, ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially in cross-bor­der cases. There are in­form­a­tion gaps and a glar­ing asym­metry between the pos­sib­il­it­ies cor­por­a­tions have to as­sert their rights, on the one hand, and the leg­al re­course avail­able to in­di­vidu­al vic­tims, on the oth­er. As a con­sequence, ad­equate and, above all, na­tion­al le­gis­la­tion ad­dress­ing vic­tims’ vul­ner­ab­il­ity is of­ten not giv­en.

This in­ter­dis­cip­lin­ary pro­ject in­volving Ger­many, Italy, and Bel­gi­um is be­ing car­ried out by jur­ists, crim­in­o­lo­gists, and so­cial sci­ent­ists and ex­plores the ex­ist­ing pos­sib­il­it­ies by which the in­terests of vic­tims are taken in­to ac­count in crim­in­al pro­ceed­ings – by ana­lyz­ing case files/case stud­ies and con­duct­ing in­ter­views with the vic­tims them­selves as well as with vic­tims’ pro­tec­tion or­gan­iz­a­tions. On this basis, con­crete ap­proaches to and sug­ges­tions for im­prov­ing the situ­ation of vic­tims will be de­veloped. In ad­di­tion, spe­cif­ic guidelines and train­ing con­cepts shall serve to raise the aware­ness of vic­tims, vic­tims’ pro­tec­tion or­gan­iz­a­tions, vic­tim-ori­ented ju­di­cial ser­vices, the po­lice, law­yers, and cor­por­a­tions with re­gard to vic­tims’ needs in prac­tice, thus achiev­ing bet­ter ac­cess to justice in the fu­ture.