Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Peru: possibly an interesting forum for climate change compensation

The Supreme Court of Justice Peru
(Image Manuel González Olaechea)
Peru is the latest of the Latin American we look at afters our first look at tort law systems in a view of possible climate change compensation litigation. Based on the Civil Codes of the respective state as few relevant legal literature, we tried to cover the important aspects of possible climate change compensation.

The Civil Code of Peru provides, in its Article 1969, for the classic liability in case of intentionally or negligently caused damage. This Article 1969 contains a special rule: the tortfeasor has to proof that he did not act intentionally or negligently. This facilitates evidently actions against those contributing to climate change: evidence for causality is sufficient.

In addition to the legal base of Article 1969, Article 1970 of the Civil Code of Peru provides for the liability of those who caused a damage by a dangerous object or activity. Though formulated slightly broader than in the case of other Latin-American Civil Codes, the question arrises whether CO2 emitting can be regarded as dangerous activity, given that the causality link between emission and damage is rather remote.

The responsibility under both articles is excluded in the case of legimitate execution of a right (Article 1971). One can certainly argue that it is legimitate to breath and thereby to emit CO2. But is it also a legimitate execution of a right to cause CO2 emissions at an industrial scale when this causes damage to others? Is there a right to emit CO2 at an industrial scale? It is at unlikely that there is a written right to do so, but still the view of judges cannot be predicted.

The Civil Code of Peru provides for joint and common liability of multiple persons responsible for a certain damage.

Given that the victim has no burden of proof for negligence of the tortfeasor and that there is an article providing for joint and common liability, Peru seems to be a comparatively interesting forum for climatge change compensation lawsuits. However, there is some uncertainty due to an exclusion clause which might apply or not.

Relevant articles of the Civil Code of Peru:

SECCION SEXTA - Responsabilidad extracontractual

  • Articulo 1969º.- Indemnizacion por daño moroso y culposo
    Aquel que por dolo o culpa causa un daño a otro esta obligado a indemnizarlo. El descargo por falta de dolo o culpa corresponde a su autor.
  • Articulo 1970º.- Responsabilidad por riesgo
    Aquel que mediante un bien riesgoso o peligroso, o por el ejercicio de una actividad riesgosa o peligrosa, causa un daño a otro, esta obligado a repararlo.
  • Articulo 1971º.- Inexistencia de responsabilidad
    No hay responsabilidad en los siguientes casos:
    1.- En el ejercicio regular de un derecho.
    2.- En legitima defensa de la propia persona o de otra o en salvaguarda de un bien propio o ajeno.
    3.- En la perdida, destruccion o deterioro de un bien por causa de la remocion de un peligro inminente, producidos en estado de necesidad, que no exceda lo indispensable para conjurar el peligro y siempre que haya notoria diferencia entre el bien sacrificado y el bien salvado. La prueba de la perdida, destruccion o deterioro del bien es de cargo del liberado del peligro.
  • Articulo 1972º.- Irresponsabilidad por caso fortuito o fuerza mayor
    En los casos del articulo 1970, el autor no esta obligado a la reparacion cuando el daño fue consecuencia de caso fortuito o fuerza mayor, de hecho determinante de tercero o de la imprudencia de quien padece el daño.
  • Articulo 1983º.- Responsabilidad solidaria
    Si varios son responsables del daño, responderan solidariamente. Empero, aquel que pago la totalidad de la indemnizacion puede repetir contra los otros, correspondiendo al juez fijar la proporcion segun la gravedad de la falta de cada uno de los participantes. Cuando no sea posible discriminar el grado de responsabilidad de cada uno, la reparticion se hara por partes iguales.
Related: If a lawyer is ready to launch a lawsuit in South America they would need to identify potential defendants for such a climate damage litigation cases. This study may provide some tips of what they would need to watch out for.