Under the Chinese environmental law context, ‘environmental liability’ refers to an obligation based on the principle that a polluting party should pay partly or entirely for damage caused by its activities. As an umbrella term, it includes three types of environmental liabilities: the civil liability, administrative liability and criminal liability, which most of the private and public law actions involving environmental harm may commonly rely upon. Violators may face potential fines, penalties, or jail terms for violations of various environmental statutes. This chapter will first explore the nature and definition of each type of environmental liability. It will then consider the components of each liability which include the scope of each liability, liability standards and remedy issue may in recent times have been supplemented by China’s Criminal Law 1997 (as revised) and the Environmental Protection Law 2014.
Zhao Xiaobo and Zhang Jianwei
In China, environmental disputes may arise between different parties with quite different contexts: (1) disputes between polluters and the victims of environmental pollution; (2) disputes among the regulated community; and (3) disputes in the environmental protection authorities, and between members of the public and the government. Accordingly, these types of disputes can be solved or settled by different means jointly or respectively, which primarily include environmental litigation and Alternative Disputes Resolutions (ADRs). This chapter introduces legal frameworks of environmental dispute resolution in China and primarily examines the methods for resolving disputes between polluters and victims of pollution. It then introduces the environmental court system in China; it also explores the role of environmental litigation, the main features of civil acts, administrative acts and criminal litigation. In addition, people’s mediation, administrative mediation and judicial mediation, is discussed in the context of environmental disputes settlement. It concludes with suggestions for a more effective and equitable dispute settlement mechanism in China.