This paper discusses the regulatory pattern of delegating law-making power to private corporate actors, while attempting to reassert public authority through a quest for ‘embeddedness’ – an incorporation of public values within private actors themselves. The paper will examine new forms of regulation within Global Value Chains that attempt to harness the potential of the social sphere to impose sanctions on corporate misconduct. The role of the law becomes to facilitate the permeability of private institutional structures to the pressures of the market and civil society. This mutation of the function of law reifies the asymmetries of social power in legal arrangements and it weakens the role of democratic politics as the principle of social ordering. At the same time, such new forms of market regulation do not challenge the structural inequalities encased in the original institutional setup of public and private legal infrastructure and thus fail to reconstitute market dynamics.