A new law on environmental liabilities was recently published in the Official Gazette for Buenos Aires province. It details provisions which regulate the identification of environmental liabilities, as well as the obligation to restore contaminated sites or areas of risk to the population's health in order to mitigate negative impacts on the environment.
The Senate of the province of Buenos Aires recently passed the first law in the country establishing the principles, liabilities and obligations for the sustainable management of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). The new law aims to prevent and reduce the generation of WEEE, promote the reuse and recycling of such waste and modify the conduct of individuals that are part of the lifecycle of electric and electronic devices.
The Buenos Aires provincial executive power recently filed a bill with the legislative body for discussion and possible approval of a new Environmental Infractions Code. This innovative code will form the first compendium of administrative rules in Argentine law that addresses the protection of natural resources and the calculation of environmental administrative infractions and penalties corresponding to each breach.
The National Congress has passed the new Law on Minimum Standards for Protection of Glaciers and Periglacier Environment. In addition to defining 'glaciers', the new law created the National Glacier Inventory, where all glaciers and periglacier geoforms that act as water reserves within the national territory will be listed, with all the necessary information for their adequate protection, control and monitoring.
The Environmental Protection Agency of the province of Buenos Aires recently issued Resolution 389/2010 governing electronic waste management. The new resolution aims to prevent the indiscriminate generation of electronic waste and promote the reuse and recycling of such waste, with manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of electronic equipment being given a key role.
The court recently found in favour of the defendant state tortfeasors in an ongoing class action involving infected abalone (edible sea snails). The judge concluded that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the state tortfeasors owed the plaintiff a duty to take reasonable care to protect the plaintiff from economic losses caused by an escape of the virus and the disease from an abalone farm.
Parliament has taken the first steps towards making companies responsible for the full lifecycle of their products by passing the Product Stewardship Act 2011 as part of its National Waste Policy initiative. The act is essentially designed to reduce wastage, improve recycling rates, eliminate hazardous substances and reduce the overall environmental impact of products as they reach the end of their useful life.
The New South Wales government has introduced the new Energy Administration Amendment Act, which amends the Energy Administration Act and renames it as the Energy and Utilities Administration Act. The new act introduces two sustainability initiatives: it establishes the Water Savings Fund and the Energy Savings Fund, and it requires the state's heavy water and energy users to prepare saving action plans.
The New South Wales government has proposed changes to the state's environmental protection and pollution control framework. Key changes include simplifying the waste licensing regime and improving the effectiveness of the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Since the launch of the New South Wales (NSW) Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme in 2003, NSW utility services companies have been preparing themselves for climate change-related legislation. However, a recent report shows that businesses in other sectors have not strategically considered the ramifications of climate change law and policy.
In 2004 the European Commission adopted the EU Environmental Liability Directive, which promoted the establishment within the European Union of a uniform legal liability system for environmental damage. As a result, environmental liability issues should attract greater significance, and thus a broader environmental due diligence process with respect to acquisition targets.
When industrial property is sold and transferred, the parties usually agree on what environmental liabilities are assumed by which party. However, under mandatory public laws the seller remains liable for certain environmental obligations and the buyer becomes liable for other environmental obligations, irrespective of contractual provisions to the contrary.
Administrative authorities have broad competence in assessing administrative appeals, but it was previously unclear as to whether they could also examine aspects of the contested decision that were not disputed. A recent Council of State judgment concerning the appeal of a provincial council's refusal to grant an environmental permit has finally shed some light on this delicate issue.
Considerable attention has been given recently to the environmental crime of illegal waste dumping. Belgian jurisprudence tends to extend liability for the crime to the previous owners of the site. In order to avoid criminal and civil liability for illegal waste dumping years after the polluted land has been sold, landowners should investigate whether waste may be present on the site and dispose of any waste accordingly.
The Brussels Capital Region Parliament recently adopted the Brussels Code on Air, Climate and Energy Management. The code is an innovative instrument that takes an integrated approach to air, climate and energy management in the region. It also provides a legal framework for policy instruments to tackle a number of issues related to air, climate and energy, and to meet European and international commitments.
The Court of Cassation recently upheld a lower court judgment with significant environmental law-related implications. The judgment is exceptional in that both the company itself and the members of its executive board were held criminally liable for the company's policy choices. In light of this decision, it is expected that companies will comply with environmental legislation in a more consistent and precise way.
A new decree has inserted a new title, "Environmental policy agreements", into the Decree on General Provisions Relating to Environmental Policy. The old legislative framework allowed for third-party participation only at a late stage of the procedure. Therefore, the main aim of the new decree is to enhance third-party participation before the start of the negotiations relating to an environmental policy agreement.
Article 3 of the Law of Environmental Crimes constitutes Brazil's sole provision regarding legal entities' liability. This clause intended to help to increase legal certainty by restricting the circumstances under which a company may be held criminally liable to those where there is evidence of wilful misconduct by its senior executives or board. However, an examination of court practice shows that many federal and state prosecutors have failed to comply with these legal requirements.
The government recently enacted the Biodiversity Law, which establishes rules on access to genetic heritage and associated traditional knowledge, and on benefit sharing for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Among other things, it provides that foreign individuals cannot access genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge.
Given Brazil's strict liability regime, special care must be taken when evaluating environmental liabilities in relation to mergers and acquisitions. The strict liability regime applies to any environmental damage, meaning that the owner of polluted land is subject to environmental civil liability. As such, a new landowner can be held jointly liable for repairing environmental damage caused by the polluter.
Unbridled global consumption of manufactured products has generated significant waste and created major problems related to environmentally appropriate disposal and post-consumer waste management. In light of this, the Superior Court of Justice recently recognised the post-consumer liability of potentially polluting product manufacturers for the first time.
The Public Attorney's Office has brought a claim against the introduction of fracking on the basis that there is a lack of legislation regarding its environmental impact. For example, no regulations establish a procedure for the grant of environmental permits or outline the required environmental studies. Several Brazilian states have issued preliminary injunctions in support of the Public Attorney's Office.