Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Call for public interest environmental lawsuits

On Oct. 28, 2005, Song Jian (宋健), the chairman of the China Environmental Protection Association (中华环保联合会), called for the establishment of a system of public interest environmental protection lawsuits. In this system, any citizen, social group, or governmental agency would have standing. What's interesting is the proposed defendant: state judicial organs (国家司法机关). If his remarks were not misreported, it's not clear to me what he has in mind. It would not be surprising for such a system to grant a private right of action against actual polluters, or against the central Environmental Protection Administration or its local branches. But the latter is not normally considered a "judicial organ". Judicial organs such as courts and police would not be involved in environmental law matters until it came time to enforce a fine or other measure against a recalcitrant offender. Does Song contemplate public interest lawsuits only when such enforcement actions are not properly undertaken?

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