Liability as a complement to environmental regulation: an empirical study of the French legal system

Bentata, Pierre
July 2014
Environmental Economics & Policy Studies;Jul2014, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p201
Academic Journal
Reasons for the joint use of ex ante regulation and ex pos t liability to cope with environmental accidents have been a longstanding issue in law and economics literature. This article, which includes the first empirical study of the French environmental legal system, analyzes courts' decisions when injurers complied with regulatory standards. The results provide some evidence that liability may be a complement to regulation by encouraging aspects of care that cannot be regulated at reasonable costs, especially human behaviour and organization within dangerous entities. An unexpected effect of liability is observed: judges are more severe with the most regulated firms and public agents compared to smaller, private actors. This might be interpreted as complementing regulation when enforcement of regulatory standards is thought to be weak.


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