Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Suing CO2 polluters here, enforcing judgments there

A typical road signs in Australia with text changed
to remind that judgments can be enforced worldwide.
(Image Fred Quint)
Most lawsuits striving for compensation of climate change damage by CO2 polluters take place in the U.S. and in Australia with the U.S. having 420 and Australia having 70 decided cases out of 592 total decisions worldwide as of 2013. But chances for success are extremely limited in these jurisdictions. Claimer.org advocates for an alternative strategy: to sue in jurisdictions where chances for success are better and where the principle of joint and common liability for tort is recognized. As we have shown on this blog, some jurisdictions seem to fulfill these conditions: The Netherlands, Sweden, the Czech Republic, India, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Columbia and maybe Brazil.

CO2 polluters do not necessarily have large assets in these jurisdictions. Accordingly, it could be argued that the strategy advocated by Claimer.org would fail. However, the enforcement of judgments is not limited to the jurisdiction of the judgment. Some international agreements and supra-national regional law provides for the possibility to enforce in another jurisdiction than the one of the judgment or ruling. And national law of several jurisdictions provides for this possibility as well, see the links below.

It is sometimes even possible that the climate change victim is residing in state A, that the CO2 polluter has his place of business in state B, that the victim successfully sues the polluter in state C (e.g. because fossil fuels of the polluter were sold and combusted there) and that the judgment/ruling of state C is enforced in state D, E or F.

To sum-up: victims of climate change and their lawyers might start an intelligent multiple-jurisdictions-strategy against CO2 polluters instead of repeatedly running against the walls of the U.S. and other legal systems with limited chances of success.

Websites informing about conditions for enforcing foreign tort judgments/rulings:












United States

United Kingdom


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