The Evidence of Harms and the Harms of Evidence: Critical reflections on corporate harm

Professor Fiona Haines1,2, Associate Professor  Kate  Henne2,4, Mark Hamilton3, Professor Liz Campbell5, Kendra Trevaille

1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia,

2ANU, Canberra, Australia,

3University Of New South Wales, Australia

4University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

5Monash University, Australia 

Climate Change Criminology published by Bristol University Press.

The harms of commerce are well conceptualised through research into corporate and white-collar crime and more recently green criminology. Less examined in these fields is the nature of evidence and what authority evidence carries when it comes to responding to these harms and crimes. This roundtable examines the complexity of evidence when dealing with the chronic harms of commerce: from environmental damage to catastrophic impacts on health and destruction of indigenous knowledge. This roundtable takes as a starting point the understanding that evidence as ‘fact’ is shaped by the interests of those with power and resources. Yet, it questions the analytical solution that evidence is irredeemably socially constructed in the face of mounting social and environmental damage. Evidence that emerges from research and expertise remain critically important understanding the significance of the harm business generates. Further, evidence can be central to struggles involving legal strategies and interventions that can ameliorate corporate harm. Here, we question key assumptions that accrue from this orientation towards evidence. In particular, this roundtable will interrogate the value of understanding good evidence and expertise as ‘independent’. It will explore the benefit acknowledging the multiple dependencies on evidence, not only as researchers but also as citizens, policymakers and politicians. Learning from different knowledge traditions as well as reflexive examination of western knowledge may generate a way to develop evidence with greater integrity – and greater benefit in terms of charting ways forward.


Fiona Haines is Professor of Criminology at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University. She has extensive expertise in white collar and corporate crime, globalisation and regulation. Her current projects include research in Indonesia and India analysing local grievances against multinational enterprises for human rights abuse, research in Australia analysing community protests against coal seam gas and work analysing the intersection between social and environmental justice.

Kate Henne is Canada Research Chair at the University of Waterloo in Canada and Associate Professor at RegNet, ANU. Her research research interests, broadly conceived, are concerned with biogovernance—that is, the governance of populations and individual humans through science and technology—with a particular focus on how technoscience and regulation interface with social inequality. Her work spans surveillance, sport and physical culture, biomedicine, gender inequality, drug regulation, crime, and deviance.

Professor Liz Campbell is the inaugural Francine V McNiff Chair in Criminal Jurisprudence at Monash University, Melbourne. Her research focuses on how the law responds to sophisticated, profit-driven crime, both by otherwise legitimate corporate entities as well as networks of organised crime. Another strand of her research looks at the use of biometrics in investigation and prosecution, and she is a member of the UK Home Office Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group. Her research has been funded by the Research Council UK’s Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security, the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Law Foundation of New Zealand, the Fulbright Commission, the Modern Law Review, and the Carnegie Trust.

Mr Mark Hamilton is currently undertaking his PhD in Law at the University of New South Wales under the joint supervision of Professor Cameron Holley (Faculty of Law) and Dr Jane Bolitho (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), exploring the applicability of restorative justice conferencing in a pollution offending context. He was formerly a solicitor in an environmental and planning law practice in Sydney, and a former tipstaff to a Land and Environment Court of New South Wales judge. Email:

Kendra Trevaille holds a Master’s degree in Marine Conservation from Victoria University of Wellington and is currently a PhD researcher at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Her current research focuses on the use of market-based initiatives, such as seafood certification, for improving the sustainability of fishery social-ecological systems in the developing world. Prior to starting her PhD, Kendra worked as a research scientist at the Western Australian Department of Fisheries as part of the Third-Party Certification Project during which time she supported the assessment of over 50 fisheries against the Marine Stewardship Council fisheries standard.

Recent Comments
    Recent Comments