Cour de Cassation rejects view of its own AG – Upholds jurisdiction over Erika disaster. Total to appeal to ECoHR.

Today the French Cour de Cassation upheld French jurisdiction over the Erika disaster, both from a criminal and a civil law point of view. It rejected the view of its Advocate General, on which I reported earlier. I have yet to read the judgment itself, however in a press release (not a standard procedure for the Court), the Court suggested it has several jurisdictional grounds to pick from, in both public international law, law of the Seas in particular, as well as international environmental law.

The court did not merely confirm the criminal convictions of Total, it also imposed civil liability which the Courts had earlier denied.

Total’s lawyers immediately announced a procedure with the European Court of Human Rights, however on what grounds is not immediately clear to me. (Postscript July 2014: I have indeed in the meantime seen no trace of such application).

Expect the judgment to become standard material in international environmental law classes. Students better dust their French.

Geert.

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