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Today terrorism has become a world-wide phenomenon which does not stop at the European borders. Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and terrorist attacks in Paris, Madrid and London, concerns have arisen in Europe about potential liability exposure for terrorism-related damage. This book tackles the problem of civil liability for damage caused by terrorist acts from several angles. The authors expertly deliver a comprehensive analysis of terrorism-related risk under international and EU law, and the national tort law systems of seven representative EU Member States. They also provide a comparison of the situation in Europe to the liability environment in the United States. Risk mitigation strategies are considered and critically assessed, as are alternative systems for redressing terrorism-related risks. The book concludes with a reflection on the analysis and presents possible strategies for future regulation by the European lawmakers.
A is the operator of a nuclear power plant. Due to a sudden breakdown of the cooling system, the surrounding land is contaminated by radioactive substances. The breakdown was caused by company C who had been in charge of the recent revision of the cooling system. Neighbour B suffers a loss.
Who is liable? What kind of damage may B claim?
Would it make any difference if the contamination was the result of a continuous process instead of a sudden incident?
Liability for nuclear power plants is mainly regulated by international law, namely, the Paris and Brussels Conventions. In Belgium, the Paris and Brussels Conventions were implemented by the Act of 22 July 1985, which was amended by the Act of 11 July 2000. Under the amendment, liability for the operator is limited to €300 million. In France, nuclear power plants are operated by the state-owned Electricité de France (EDF). As an établissement public industriel et commercial, EDF can be sued in civil court, though, according to special legislation, only the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris has jurisdiction. Liability is governed by Law No. 68-943 of 30 October 1968, as amended by Law No. 90-488 of 16 June 1990, and is limited to €90 million per accident. In the United Kingdom, the Paris Convention was implemented by the Nuclear Installations Acts of 1965 and 1969. The liability cap is currently £140 million.
Background to the project and methodological remarks
The project forms part of the comprehensive comparative project entitled The Common Core of European Private Law, based in Trento, Italy. The work, started in 1999, seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the private law aspects of environmental liability in fourteen jurisdictions from thirteen European countries. The original intent was to cover each of the – at the time when the project was conceived – fifteen Member States of the European Union, but it became apparent that it was impossible to find reporters from Denmark and Luxembourg. The participants in the project, mostly academics and some practitioners with a strong academic background, were selected according to their expertise in the field of the private environmental liability law of their home country. When reading the reports, it is obvious that the results differ, from very scholarly and sophisticated reports to rather short and pragmatic answers, thus reflecting not only the individual approach of the reporter but also the different legal traditions of the countries covered by the project.
The project applies the methodology of the Common Core project as a whole. It follows a strict analytical perspective with the goal of describing the existing law without the intention of qualifying the national solutions from a certain perspective. It was thus not intended to assess the national jurisdictions in terms of environmental protection standards or to achieve further harmonisation in this field of law.
A is a producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As a result of an intentional and legal or an unintentional release of these organisms, B suffers damage.
Is A liable to B? Would it be of importance that B is a neighbour to A's site where the release took place?
Who would be liable if the release was carried out by the farmer C who had bought a genetically modified organism from A?
What kind of damage may B claim?
What is the extent of liability if several persons living in the community where the release took place develop minor health damage (e.g. a harmless, but very tiresome allergy) and/or property damage?
Liability for the risks imposed by genetically modified organisms must cover the scientific development and production of genetically modified organisms, their distribution on the market, and use by farmers and consumers. The distribution of genetically modified organisms on the market is covered under product liability law, which is, due to the harmonising effects of the EC Products Liability Directive, quite similar in all European countries. It provides no-fault liability on the producer for the use and consumption of products placed on the market. Thus, when a consumer is injured by the consumption of a foodstuff or a drug produced by methods of genetic engineering, he or she will be entitled to claim property or personal injury damage from the producer. Damage to the environment, however, is only covered if it constitutes property damage.