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Are Environmental Harms Special?

Cane, Peter

Description

Major pollution incidents and a concern for the future well-being of the planet have caused many lawyers to support the idea of a distinct civil liability regime for compensating environmental damage. But unless we are sure that environmental harms do deserve special treatment, special liability regimes may prove to be a mistake in the long-run. The main aim in the design of liability law should be to distribute the past costs of pollution rather than to punish or act as a future deterrent. A...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorCane, Peter
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-13T23:22:21Z
dc.date.available2015-12-13T23:22:21Z
dc.identifier.issn0952-8873
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/91402
dc.description.abstractMajor pollution incidents and a concern for the future well-being of the planet have caused many lawyers to support the idea of a distinct civil liability regime for compensating environmental damage. But unless we are sure that environmental harms do deserve special treatment, special liability regimes may prove to be a mistake in the long-run. The main aim in the design of liability law should be to distribute the past costs of pollution rather than to punish or act as a future deterrent. A critical evaluation of the nature of environmental harms suggests that they are not special in a way that justifies a special legal regime, and where liability regimes are used as a means of raising money to clean up the environment they are a costly and cumbersome means of doing so. Similarly, when most legal systems start from a position that non-contractual liability for harm should be based on fault, it is difficult to justify in terms of legal policy and principle a pocket of strict liability for environmental harm. People who view environmental harms as presenting distinctive legal issues do so because they focus on the environmental source of the harm rather than its nature. This may be usefully politically but it creates legal confusion. In constructing regimes for liability for environmental harms, it is important to appreciate the limits of compensation law for achieving our environmental goals.
dc.publisherOxford University Press
dc.sourceJournal of Environmental Law
dc.titleAre Environmental Harms Special?
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.description.refereedYes
local.identifier.citationvolume13
dc.date.issued2001
local.identifier.absfor180111 - Environmental and Natural Resources Law
local.identifier.ariespublicationMigratedxPub22130
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationCane, Peter, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU
local.bibliographicCitation.issue1
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage3
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage20
dc.date.updated2015-12-12T09:10:40Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-5844313232
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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