Karl Bourdeau Discusses New Developments Regarding Environmental Citizen Suits in China
In an article by The Christian Science Monitor titled “China climate: Environmentalists wield new legal tool against despoilers,” Karl Bourdeau, Beveridge & Diamond principal and leader of the Firm’s China practice, discusses new developments regarding citizen suits in environmental cases in China. Addressing a recent citizen suit decision in which a Chinese court ordered relief sought by the plaintiffs, including injunctive relief, compensation for damages to natural resources, and attorneys’ fees, Mr. Bourdeau says that the emergence of citizen suits under new statutory provisions in amendments to China’s Environmental Protection Law, effective January 1, 2015, may signal “a new day and age for environmental law enforcement” in China. He goes on to caution, however, that “how far, how fast and how effectively” citizen suits will be used “remains highly uncertain.”
Regarding the future of environmental citizen suits in China, Mr. Bourdeau says, “All this is brand new." There has been one recent, notable judicial decision granting relief subsequent to the Environmental Protection Law amendments and ensuing interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court regarding the citizen suit provisions of those amendments. Numerous other citizen suits are before Chinese courts. Mr. Bourdeau says that how those and other courts are prepared to respond to those suits is an open question. “How powerful a force will public interest litigation be in China in remedying environmental damage? The jury is still out,” he says.