Follow the power: Why the rule of law directly concerns private actors

If power corrupts, whose power should we worry about most? Following a teleological rule of law conception focused on reducing the arbitrary exercise of power (Krygier), this paper argues that we need to focus on the consequences of arbitrary power for its subjects rather than assume that the rule of law applies to a specific category of actors. Although rule of law principles are most easily achievable through state institutions, these principles also have meaning for non-state actors. This paper zooms in on the arbitrary actions of large private actors, multinational companies, because these exemplify the problem of private power beyond the reach of nation states. The paper argues that these situations put the rule of law to the test, because there are no obvious resources for rule of law limits on such private actors. The question to be addressed then is how the rule of law idea needs to be reconstructed to bring the power of private actors beyond the state within its scope.