Monday, April 8, 2013

Venezuela: apparently rather good chances for victims of climate change

Venezuela climate change changes apparently look good
In a series of short blog entries we have a first look on Latin American tort law systems in a view of possible climate change compensation litigation. The blog entries are mainly based on the Civil Codes of the respective state as few relevant legal literature, if any, is available on the internet. Here we discuss Venezuela.

Article 1.185 of the Civil Code of Venezuela provides for the liability of those who have intentionally, negligently or by carelessness caused a damage. Basically, this clause may constitute a basis for claiming compensation for climate change damages. For the years following the Kyoto Protocol the causality between the emission of CO2 and certain other gases and climate change is commonly known. Big industries can hardly argue that they did not read the press. Accordingly they accepted consciously the risk of damaging others via the emissions of these gases. Thus at least “negligence” or “carelessness” is given. However, like in all other jurisdictions, the length of the causality chain might invite judges to invoke aspects of attributability. We do not know to what extent the unwritten Venezuelan law or judicial practice is open to this kind of argument.

Article 1.195 clearly stipulates the joint and common liability of multiple tortfeasors.

In summary, Venezuela offers rather good prospects for victims of climate change going for compensation litigation, though there is no procedural privilege like in some other Latin-American states.

Relevant articles of the Civil Code of Venezuela:

De los Hechos Ilícitos

  • Artículo 1.185.- El que con intención, o por negligencia o por imprudencia, ha causado un daño a otro, está obligado a repararlo. Debe igualmente reparación quien haya causado un daño a otro, excediendo, en el ejercicio de su derecho, los límites fijados por la buena fe o por el objeto en vista del cual le ha sido conferido ese derecho. 
  • Artículo 1.195.- Si el hecho ilícito es imputable a varias personas, quedan obligadas solidariamente a reparar el daño causado. Quien ha pagado íntegramente la totalidad del daño, tiene acción contra cada uno de los coobligados por una parte que fijará el Juez según la gravedad de la falta cometida por cada uno de ellos. Si es imposible esta blecer el grado de responsabilidad de los coobligados, la repartición se hará por partes iguales.

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