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Compliance assurance and company compliance management systems

  • Number: 2011/04
  • Status: Finalised
  • Period: 2011
  • Lead Country: The Netherlands

  • Project team countries:
    The Netherlands

  • Participating countries:
    The Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway and UK.

Executive Summary

The project will address the following issues: –

  • What conditions should be met to make use as regulator of company compliance management systems and can we define minimum criteria on robustness and reliability?
  • What would be the role of the inspection authority/regulator when it comes to checking company compliance management systems against these minimum criteria? Should they perform audits to assess the functioning of company compliance management systems? How would this interact with regular auditing of company management systems like ISO 14001, EMAS and OHSAS 18001 by third parties? Could these third parties take on board the auditing of company compliance management systems?
  • In what directions could governmental supervision develop once a company compliance management system has proven to function according to the expectations, minimum criteria and needs of both the company and the authorities? Should environmental permits be aligned to a company compliance management system? How could this be done?
  • What projects and initiatives in this field are taking place in IMPEL member countries and what can we learn from them?
  • Can we identify good practices and are there issues that need further examination and study?

Project description

In many countries Industrial companies are supervised by authorities who regularly carry out site inspections and perform other “traditional” compliance checks like assessing emissions reports. But how effective and efficient are these output oriented supervision activities in terms of achieving good compliance with environmental regulation or even environmental performance beyond compliance? Bigger (multinational) companies who have internal environmental and safety management systems in place and a good compliance record often claim that environmental inspections can be reduced and suggest that supervision should be aligned to their management systems. Some of these companies also put in place systems  specifically aimed at assuring legal compliance. These systems are developed as stand alone arrangements or as part of already existing internal environmental or safety management systems.

In this project we call these arrangements company compliance management systems. For the purpose of this project company compliance management systems are defined as company internal control systems which explicitly aim at and contain specific provisions for safeguarding compliance of the company with all relevant permit and other environmental legal requirements
The aim of this project is to explore how company compliance management systems could be used by the regulator to check and assure legal compliance and how, as a consequence, how governmental regulation, in particular supervision, could be adapted accordingly.