Today, businesses and individuals have significant legal obligations to minimise and manage the impact of their activities on the environment.
These duties are contained in a complex array of state and Commonwealth legislation.
Under these laws, a wide variety of public bodies – from local councils to the Federal Minister of the Environment, and even private parties in some cases – can commence criminal and civil enforcement proceedings against corporations and individuals for alleged breaches of environmental laws that frequently impose a standard of strict liability.
The range of possible environmental offences is extremely broad, from illegal tree removal and relatively minor building works to major contamination of waterways due to negligent industrial waste disposal. The courts also have significant sentencing powers, including fines in excess of $1 million for corporations, mandatory remediation works, and in the most severe circumstances, imprisonment. Company directors and senior management staff may be found personally liable for the environmental conduct of their corporations. If found guilty of an environmental offence, it is also likely that a defendant will be ordered to pay the prosecutor’s investigation and legal costs, which are frequently in the magnitude of tens of thousands. By getting advice sooner rather than later, damage can often be minimised and risks contained. Make sure your interests are fully protected. Talk to one of our team of specialist environmental crime lawyers today.
Many environmental prosecutions are conducted under significantly different procedures, with unique evidentiary requirements, and often in an entirely different jurisdiction to general criminal offences. This is one reason why specialist advice and representation is so important in matters of this kind. We have experience defending and advising on prosecutions and civil enforcement proceedings for the full range of environmental matters.