When an individual or a company does not comply with environmental laws or authorisations, it can result in civil, administrative and/or criminal liability, depending on the fault committed.
The GLENR sets forth environmental liability by including the strict liability principle whereby the classic exclusions in liability clauses are not applied to environmental civil liability. Legal responsibility arises from the production of the damage itself. This doctrine establishes that anyone who causes damage to the environment and natural resources will be liable for it and will have to restore it to its previous condition. [Article 169 of the Environmental and Natural Resources General Law 64-00. If that is not possible, additional compensation will apply. Administrative liability has become the most frequent type of liability when a breach of environmental laws and or permit takes place.

The main administrative penalties foreseen in environmental legislation are the following:

(1) A fine of up to three thousand (3,000) times the minimum wage;
(2) Seizure and/or confiscation; and
(3) Prohibition or temporary suspension of activities, or partial or total closing of the establishment.

As to civil liability, damages caused to third parties as a result of pollution are contemplated within the Civil Code. Several penalties can arise:

(1) An order to materially restore the damage caused;
(2) An indemnity order in favour of the State (for the community where the damage was done) and/or any individuals affected; and
(3) An order to re-establish the environment to the condition prior to the deed, whenever possible.

As to criminal liability, competent criminal jurisdiction may impose on individuals or companies who have infringed the penalties, among which are:

(1) imprisonment if deaths occurred due to the infringement;
(2) fines;
(3) forfeiture;
(4) the obligation to compensate those who suffered damages;
(5) temporary or definitive withdrawal of the authorisation, licence or permit; and
(6) the obligation to repair, replace, compensate, restore or rehabilitate to its original state the natural resource affected.

Regardless of the type of liability in question, the individual or company sanctioned will always have the corresponding remedies or procedural defence, both in administrative as well as judicial court.

If you wish to read detail information in environment as well as Quiroz Santroni’s performance and expertise in this legal practice, please visit The International Comparative Legal Guide for Environment and Climate Change by 2015.