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05 August 2013
In Brazil, the breach of environmental laws may result in civil, administrative and/or criminal liability:
The public prosecutor at federal or state level participates actively in the filing of lawsuits claiming environmental civil and criminal liabilities, as well as any other entity that is legally entitled to bring the respective suit. For administrative liability, environmental agencies may make use of legally established penalties, which include administrative fines and rights restraints.
For environmental law purposes, administrative infractions are considered any act or omission that violates the rules of use, enjoyment, protection and recovery of the environment. Under Federal Decree 6,514/2008, administrative penalties may consist of:
For some violations, fines may reach R50 million, depending on the extent of environmental damage and measures taken by the polluter to protect and remediate the affected area.
With regard to criminal penalties, Federal Law 9,605/1998 lists over 60 different environmental crimes. Penalties may consist of fines, restraint, community service or even prison for officers, directors, managers, members of the board or committees and decision makers. Legal persons are subject to suspension of activities, embargo of works and activities and temporary closure, regardless of the restriction of tax and financial incentives.
An earlier version of this update first appeared in Latin Lawyer.
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Maria Alice Doria