Risk Communication, Earthquakes and liability

I am not privy to the complete file. Neither do I read Italian to a decent standard, however I have  abbled in risk analysis issues before. The recent decision establishing criminal liability against (inter alia) a number of scientists in the L’Aquila 2009 Earthquake trial, must go down as one of the most mispresented court decisions.

This case is not about a court holding scientists to account for failing accurately to have predicted something unpredictable. Rather, the judgment established liability for the scientists involved  not having met their duty of care in allegedly hastily having put together a risk assessment (under pressure from the local authorities); and most importantly, for their role in the subsequent communication on said risk (again under pressure from the authorities).

Risk communication is often left to the last minute in risk analysis teaching. The L’Aquila trial (likely to be subject to appeal) illustrates its significance. It also shows how easily the world’s media can be wrong footed.

Any reader with access to the full judgment, please do get in touch.

Geert.

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