- McSpotlight -

Greenpeace Legal Services

Posted by: Michel Klijn ( Australia ) on February 24, 19100 at 11:44:52:

In Reply to: McLibel and lack of Greenpeace back-up posted by Michel Klijn on February 23, 19100 at 12:58:44:

I appreciate your comments in respect of the existing distinction between Greenpeace London and Greenpeace International. I wasn't aware of the existence of Greenpeace London and I will certainly inform myself about this organisation in more detail.

The main point I made in my comment yesterday relates to the need to fight corporates by using their own dirty tricks against them. The McLibel trial illustrates that fighting corporates in a court room may lead to massive media exposure and huge expenses for corporates (they can't afford to loose a trial). I am aware of the fact that an organisation (call it Greenpeace Legal Services) can't just go around the marketplace and sue corporates who's policies it doesn't agree with (inversion of McLibel case). However, Legal Services could go around the marketplace and look for parties which actually can sue McDonalds (ex employees, traditional landowners in Costa Rica, parents of children addicted to Mac, people with overweight or heart diseases, etcetera) and offer them support. Since Greenpeace Legal Services, supposedly, operates according to non-capitalist ideals, any costs + time arising from giving the legal assistance are likely to be substantially outweighted by the expenses made by corporates (increased advertising expenses and legal expenses). Furthermore, loosing the trial wouldn't be a big deal either if the persons who sue do not mind going bankrupt, thus limiting the risks involved. It is important to note that this type of action may prove to be more effective from an economic point of view than trying to influence peoples behaviour. This is due to the fact that 1 burger less sold by McDonalds means that its gross profit will drop by the profit margin of 1 burger only (around 30 cents). An increase of McDonalds overhead (legal + advertising) expenses means its gross profit will drop by exactly the amount of the increase (dollar for dollar loss), thus making it a more efficient course of action. The way I imagine this course of action to be implemented is by recruiting a large number of lawyers (and legal students etcetera) willing to dedicate all or some of their time for this cause. Apart from that people and organisations who are willing to sue McDonalds need to be recruited. Greenpeace Legal Services could operate with a minimum of financial resources by using the internet to establish an international legal network. It seems almost too simple to be true, therefore I am very interested in your and other peoples comments.

McSpotlight: The big problem with this is that McDonald's is *big*. They can afford the best libel lawyers around for years at a time. To challenge them in any meaningful way via the courts would require an expenditure comparable to that which McDonald's could afford; and the ensuing legal contest would become a war of attrition that McDonald's would almost certainly win.

The law courts really aren't the solution to this; a better tactic is to take this out onto the streets; it empowers individual people to contribute to the common cause; the best angle of attack on McDonald's is by hitting them at the ground level from all around; not by trying to face them down directly.

McSpotlight is an example of this; a delocalised and highly resilient website set up by a group of volunteers; we don't feature on the evening news, but, over the last four years, we've had twenty times as many visitors as the Louvre in Paris.

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