Civil liability for environmental pollution : different regimes and different perspectives
The environment is at risk not only from disastrous accidents, but also from the insidious contamination by lesser incidents and from events whose significance is unacknowledged or even unrecognised at the time. Major incidents attract instant public concern and demands for clean up and prevention. Historical and gradual contamination do not often make headlines but may have effects which equally require curative and preventive action. The costs of curative and preventive actions may reach considerable dimensions. These costs have to be provided by parties responsible for or related to the damage. Predominantly it is the role of the civil law to give redress to those who may have suffered as a result of environmental damage. The development of civil liability for environmental pollution has been traditionally marked by the recognition of different liability regimes. However, none of these approaches is in itself sufficient to address the problems of environmental protection; nor do they yet amount into toto to a composite system. Therefore, efforts have been made to increase the effectiveness of each approach. The regulatory system is in the process of reform both in the European Union and in the Member states, through tightening of the standards backed by criminal and civil laws and by improving and monitoring and enforcement of these standards. However, even the establishment of a no-fault regime cannot guarantee the accurate attribution of environmental responsibility, the exhaustive remediation of environmental damage and the compensation of every loss caused by environmental pollution. This thesis will reveal that civil liability is not effective in securing restoration of the damaged environment and compensation of the injured persons. Furthermore, it will give consideration to other conceptions (compensation schemes and compulsory insurance), which try to ensure that environmental restoration and compensation take place.