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This subject provides an examination of current environmental tort, waste management and contaminated land laws from Victoria, across Australia and beyond, alongside an inquiry into global trends in the regulation of waste and its movement. The law and regulatory policies will be critiqued against the concepts of responsibility and justice, and contextualised through case study examples and practitioner perspectives.
The subject will ask: What are the risks and advantages of relying on particular types of laws to regulate waste, and protect the environment and humans from pollution and contamination? The subject will present Victoria, with its newly revised Environment Protection Act, as a case study for these laws, while also offering comparative insights, analysing developments in the law of torts and waste and contamination laws from Australia, overseas and internationally. It will also draw on recent controversies, including global ‘bans’ on the movement of waste, a rise in concern about plastics pollution, and the uncovering of legacy contaminants on federal lands, and highlight the experiences of practitioners to learn about the law in action.
Principal topics include:
- Toxic torts, human health and environmental justice
- An introduction to the notion of a 'toxic tort’ and environmental health
- The global origins of the toxic tort discourse
- Toxic tort actions and notions of justice
- Environmental protection and responsibility; trespass, nuisance and negligence
- Offences, duties, and regulatory models for environmental protection under pollution control legislation
- Recent developments in the environmental torts landscape
- Environmental torts and notions of tortious responsibility
- Waste management – from global to local
- An international law framework for waste management
- An overview of waste management laws – from the global to the local
- The dilemma of plastics and the fate of recyclables. A case study-based critique of international, national, state and local laws and policy
- Contaminated land
- An examination of Victoria’s contaminated land laws compared with Australian and overseas jurisdictions
- 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, 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:
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.
- 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.
Last updated: 2 December 2019