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Christina Voigt and Zen Makuch
Across the globe, environmental protection is in need of strong governance arrangements: arrangements that comprise effective environmental laws and regulations, a functioning administration and an independent judiciary. Courts, often perceived as the third pillar of power alongside the legislative and executive functions of the State, have an important role to play in defending, upholding and (for judicial activists) creating an environmental rule of law. At the same time, many courts and their judges face significant challenges in doing so effectively. This volume looks at the possibilities and limitations that courts and judges encounter in protecting the environment. Norms that seek to protect the environment, and the common values it represents, are widely dispersed. We find them in thousands of domestic laws and regulations; we find them in international and regional treaties and unwritten customary laws. Sometimes we do not find them at all.
Fan Yang, Ting Zhang and Hao Zhang
Developing countries and countries with economies in transition have varying experiences in enforcing their national environmental law. China's judicial interpretations and legislation on environmental protection have established the rules that shift the burden of proof for causation in environmental tort litigation. However, this study of 513 court decisions from the people's courts at different levels in China shows that although the court decisions usually refer to or quote the rules that shift the burden of proof, in most cases the victim-plaintiffs still bear the liability to prove whether the causal relationship exists between the pollution and the harm. This study also finds that Chinese courts defer greatly to the evaluation report in proving causation. It suggests that the court practice of adjudicating environmental tort cases in China values more the factual causation of a pollution incident than the provisions regarding proof of causation stipulated by relevant laws. Consequently, such judicial practices hinder the effectiveness of judicial remedies for pollution victims in China.