Vague Notions in Environmental Criminal Law

Environmental Liability, Vol. 4, pp. 119-133, 2010

Environmental Liability, Vol. 5, pp. 163-170, 2010

Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2012 Last revised: 26 Jan 2012

See all articles by Michael G. Faure

Michael G. Faure

University of Maastricht - Faculty of Law, Metro; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law

Date Written: April 20, 2010

Abstract

In environmental criminal law, often vague notions are used to describe the behaviour that should be punished. This is also the case in a recent EC Directive on environmental crime. This EC Directive forces Member States to use the criminal law as an enforcement mechanism in case of violations of legislation implementing certain environmental directives. The Environmental Crime Directive itself, however, uses often vague notions such as "substantial damage". This paper addresses the question to what extent on the basis of legal doctrine and case law the use of vague notions is permitted in (environmental) criminal law. The case law of the European Court on Human Rights with respect to vague notions and the corresponding so-called lex certa principle is discussed as well as case law from a variety of other European courts. Also case law of the European Court of Justice is discussed. It is argued that there may be a possibility to reconcile the vague notions with a need for more precision by interpreting the vague notions in the Environmental Crime Directive in the light of other European environmental directives which provide further information on the way in which the vague notions could be interpreted.

Keywords: environmental law, criminal law, vague notions, human rights, substantial damage, lex certa principle, legality principle

JEL Classification: K14, K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Faure, Michael G., Vague Notions in Environmental Criminal Law (April 20, 2010). Environmental Liability, Vol. 4, pp. 119-133, 2010 ; Maastricht Faculty of Law Working Paper Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1988933

Michael G. Faure (Contact Author)

University of Maastricht - Faculty of Law, Metro ( email )

PO Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 - 43 - 388 30 60 (Phone)
+31 - 43 - 325 90 91 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.michaelfaure.be

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

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