Chapter 19: Think globally, sue locally: challenges and opportunities in international climate litigation in domestic courts
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Climate damages litigation is global in nature - with claims against defendants or GHG emissions outside of the country where the harm occurred. Private international law defines how courts deal with transnational disputes, with each country prescribing under its laws whether and when its courts will hear a case. The parties to climate damages litigation will first need to determine where the lawsuit can be brought ("jurisdiction"). While some legal systems require a defendant to be present with the country's borders before they can be sued, other legal systems relax this requirement where co-defendants are within the borders, harm occurs within the country, or necessity demands it. The judge must next determine which country's laws apply - most commonly the laws of either the place where the tort occurs or with the strongest connection to the case. Finally, if a climate damages plaintiff obtains a court order, but the defendant has no assets in that country, the plaintiff may seek to enforce the order in another country. As climate change becomes more costly, legal systems may evolve, addressing barriers to global lawsuits through new statutes, treaties or case law. Climate damages plaintiffs will need to evaluate where to initiate litigation, based the countries with jurisdiction to hear a claim and where a climate case might be won, but also to how and where a successful claim might be enforced.

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