Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Liability under UK law

See it on Google Books 
The liability of damages caused by climate change under UK law has been examined in a recent book: “Constructing a Private Climate Change Lawsuit under English Law: A Comparative Perspective” by Giedré Kaminskaité-Salters, Kluwer Law International, ISBN: 9789041132536. In the book the author focuses on why and how climate change litigation should be done in the UK.

The Author writes that there have indeed been a few such U.S. cases, but in other regions of the world, such as in the UK, there is little activity in this legal field. Therefore; Ms Dr Giedré Kaminskaité-Salters writes about how the current legal framework actually allows for polluters up until now to have limited their liability, and then she goes on to explain what criteria would need to be fulfilled for courts in England and the UK to hear climate change claim trials, and which tort laws - such as public nuisance or product liability laws - allow for such cases to be brought forth and possibly succeed in the UK.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Liability under international public law

Public hearing at the International
Court of Justice in The Hague
(Photo Yeu Ninje)
In a 2010 study written for the environmental organization FIELD, lawyer Christoph Schwarte comes to the conclusion: “A large part of the relevant legal literature suggests that the main polluting nations can be held responsible under international law for the harmful effects of their greenhouse-gas emissions.” - “As a result affected countries may have a substantive right to demand the cessation of a certain amount of emissions. In selected cases they also have the procedural means to pursue an inter-state litigation in an international judicial forum such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.”

The World Court, also known at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), primarily settles disputes between nation states. Because of this nature of the Court, it can possibly serve as the ideal jurisdiction for a state government of a country affected by climate change to sue another state government for failing to prevent private companies from creating climate change, and therefore did not take due diligence to prevent the damages caused from climate change.

The liability under international public law has already been the topic of a law review article in 2004 where the authors, Richard S.J. Tola and Roda Verheyen, describe that state governments can be held accountable to pay compensation for failing to prevent harm caused by climate change created from emissions. The largest unsure aspect of such a case would be determining which emissions were careless for a state to allow and therefore constitute a negligence on the part of the state government.

Update: the island state of Palau is trying this method

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Insurances expect increase in climate litigation cases and first successes by 2015

survey in 2009 of legal and insurance experts
about sentiment of increase of legal claims
directly related to climate change by 2020
In an early 2010 report covering the results of a survey interrogating insurance specialists, the lawyer and Climate Justice activist Peter Roderick comes to the conclusion: “These results clearly suggest that the possibility of an increase in legal actions as a result of direct climate damage is real.” 

The study also assesses whether insurance companies regard the five major legal obstacles as surmountable in time (which is the case) and how insurance companies should react to the risk of litigation. The majority of participants to the survey expect the first lawsuits to be successful before the end of 2015. “Public nuisance, negligence and private nuisance are considered the most promising tracks for damages cases by survey participants.”

The report sees legal possibilities in “the US, other common law countries (such as the UK, Canada and Australia), European civil law countries (such as France and Germany), and developing countries where damage is suffered or threatened. The legal issues that arise will differ between, and amongst, these groups.”

More on this topic at www.climate-mainstreaming.net/litrisk.pdf.

Update: Possible threats for insurance companies explained here