Environmental Crime and Judicial Rectification on the Prestige oil spill: The polluter pays

GT 3.20 Las múltiples dimensiones de la seguridad marítima

Gonzalo Caballero Míguez (Universidad de Vigo)
Sesión 1
Día: miércoles,20 de septiembre de 2017
Hora: 16:00 a 18:00
Lugar: Sala de Juntas

The enforcement of institutional rules requires a good performance of the judicial system. In the case of the oil spills,
courts are key actors to determine the allocation of liabilities according to international and national norms. In 2002,
the Prestige oil spill implied a major environmental disaster in the coasts of Spain, France and Portugal. The limitations
of liability, provided by the international regime of civil liability for oil pollution, prevented the polluters to fully
compensate the damage produced by the spill. In 2013, the Spanish Provincial Court of A Coruña condemned the
Captain of the tanker just for disobedience, but an environmental crime was not found and, therefore, further civil
liabilities were non-existent. Nevertheless, in 2016 the Spanish Supreme Court corrected the sentence of the
Provincial Court and sentenced the existence of an environmental crime. This judicial rectification changed the
allocation of liabilities by extending the application of the polluter pays principle and opened a different stage to
estimate and cover the damage payments. This paper analyses this new situation in a very relevant case-study on oil

Palabras clave: Oil spills, Institutional Rules, Environmental Crime, Marine Policy