find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Foul tidings in the air

Foul tidings in the air

AUSTRALIAN COMPANIES might soon be subject to ‘climate change claims’ if an environmental action filed in the US is any indication.Peter Briggs, litigation partner and environmental law…

AUSTRALIAN COMPANIES might soon be subject to ‘climate change claims’ if an environmental action filed in the US is any indication.

Peter Briggs, litigation partner and environmental law specialist at national law firm Clayton Utz, said a public nuisance claim filed for the population of California against six major car manufacturers has sought to hold the companies liable for their contribution to global warming. The case is the latest example of ‘climate litigation’ that, according to Briggs, aims to make big business shoulder the financial burden for large-scale, long-term damage to the environment and public health.

The complaint, filed by California’s Attorney-General, alleged car manufacturers have breached federal and state law by producing millions of vehicles that collectively emit massive quantities of carbon dioxide, Briggs said. The state is seeking damages for current and future expenses incurred in responding to the effects of global warming.

Briggs said that while there are substantial legal hurdles to overcome for a similar action to be successful in Australia, it was far from impossible.

“The US action probably has a political motivation, but this does not mean that the action is ill-conceived or has no relevance here,” Briggs said.

“An action in public nuisance could potentially be mounted in Australia, against a broad range of defendants who are major contributors to the production of greenhouse gases,” he said. “An action for damages or abatement of a public nuisance can be brought by an Attorney-General, or by individuals or interest groups (such as some environmental action groups) who suffer special damage or have a ‘special interest’.”

Clayton Utz property, planning and environment partner Brendan Bateman said that concerned citizens or interested parties could possibly use Australia’s state or commonwealth environment statutes to try and prevent major polluters from emitting greenhouse gases. Currently laws do not regulate the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in Australia, although there are moves in progress to introduce mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, Bateman said.

Briggs said it remains to be seen whether Australia follows the US lead in environmental litigation, as is happening in the area of class actions. “Climate change litigation will gain momentum globally, however. It’s just a matter of time.”

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Foul tidings in the air
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
11:56
Disrupting traditional archiving and storage methods
Promoted by File Pro TRENDS COME and go but technology and its disruption to the legal landscape ...
Scales of Justice
06:00
WA to close ‘legal loophole’ on gender reassignment laws
Laws in Western Australia will soon change to permit married people to undergo gender reassignment s...
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
Jan 22 2018
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
The #mypathtolaw hashtag has been embraced by legal eagles to swap stories with the Twitter communit...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...