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This subject provides an examination of current environmental tort, waste management and contaminated land laws – from Victoria, Australia and beyond – critiqued against the concepts of responsibility and justice, and contextualised through case study examples and practitioner perspectives.
It will ask: What are the risks and advantages of relying on each law to regulate waste, pollution and contamination? The subject will present Victoria as a case study for these laws, while also offering comparative insights, analysing developments in the law of torts, waste and contamination from Australia, overseas and internationally. It will also draw on recent controversies and experiences of practitioners to learn about the law in action.
Principal topics include:
- Toxic torts
- An introduction to the notion of a ‘toxic tort’
- The origins of the toxic tort discourse
- Perspectives from the United States
- Toxic tort actions and environmental justice
- Environmental harm, trespass, nuisance and negligence
- Offences of creating environmental harm and causing or permitting pollution with a focus on the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic)
- Recent developments in the environmental torts landscape, particularly within the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic)
- Environmental torts and notions of tortious responsibility
- A comparative analysis of environmental torts
- Australian torts case studies and practitioner perspectives
- Waste management laws
- An international law framework for waste management
- An overview of waste management laws – from the global to the local
- A case study-based critique of international, national, state and local laws and policy
- Contaminated land
- An examination of Victoria’s contaminated land laws under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic)
- A comparison with Australian and overseas jurisdictions
- Discussion of the possible liability of a broader community of responsible parties—including financers and company directors
- Practitioner perspectives on how clients manage contaminated land and pollution risk under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) and how lawyers can minimise potential future liability for contamination through due diligence and contract drafting.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will have an advanced and integrated understanding of, and be able to critically analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to, the following issues:
- Contaminated land laws and their practical operation.
- The environmental torts landscape, especially, insofar as they guide judgment on liability for environmental harm, the torts of trespass, private nuisance and negligence.
- Conflicts about the regulation of waste management at various jurisdictional levels.
- The difference and similarity that exists in pollution laws (in statute and the common law) across jurisdictions within Australia and abroad.
- The notions of responsibility and environmental justice and their relevance to laws and decisions that affect human health and the environment.
- Case study examples and practitioner perspectives of the law in action.
A student who has successfully completed this subject will also have the reflective, cognitive, creative, communication, technical and research skills to evaluate the law in relation to these issues.
Last updated: 29 October 2019