Many harmful corporate strategies rely on a narrative the separates the company from the harmful impacts, and therefore from responsibility and accountability. Deniability is constructed not only by complex corporate structures or outsourcing high risk activities, but by the way companies use these structures to tell a seemingly plausible story.

Multinationals deny they knew or had any control over the activities of a subsidiarity. They claim they were unaware of human rights abuses being carried out by state agents around their business, and bear no responsibility. Big brands at the top of garment or food supply chains argue they could not have reasonably detected labour abuses due to the complexity of the chain; or that they have limited leverage to realise improvements in the behaviour of suppliers.

In some cases companies make statements of – apparent – fact that deny the accounts of the victims. This can range from denying that something happened to providing alternative accounts of how an event or harm occurred or claims that the level of harm has been exaggerated.

Such claims are often accepted by the regulatory authorities or courts, particularly when the complainants have no evidence to counter the corporate claims. Providing rebuttal research, with evidence that directly challenges the corporate claims can be critical to achieving justice. Alternatively, or additionally, reframing corporate claims to expose how their claims are themselves problematic can help activists and affected people to regain the initiative in seeking remedy.