Monday, April 25, 2011

Would you pay a National Green Tribunal fees of 1% of your pollution victim compensation award?

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) has withdrawn a controversial rule mandating payment of fees to the National Green Tribunal, a forthcoming special national court system for environmental litigation.

"An application or appeal where compensation has been claimed, shall be accompanied by a fee equivalent to 1% of the compensation claimed, subject to a minimum of Rs 1,000."  The EIA Resource and Response Centre first noted the inherent unfairness of this rule.  Read it twice and it dawns on you, the rule, as currently worded, mandates fee payment by pollution victims even in the case of a litigation loss, in the amount of the mentioned minimum.

But if you were just such a victim who won her case and got financial compensation from the errant corporation, wouldn't the tree-hugger in you happily accept a 1% debit by the Tribunal of any compensation awarded to you in a timely fashion through the Tribunal?

The Economic Theory 101 pop up thought balloon in my head prevents me from neglecting to mention that my version of the rule could set up a perverse financial incentive to the Tribunal and muddy the sanctity of the court.

How about if all such fees go towards auxiliary purposes such as retaining a roster of internationally recognized independent technical experts that most victims could not afford, to advise the Tribunal as needed on cases?  Wouldn't that be a judicious and productive use of the cash? 

If you're still not convinced, remind yourself which side has the deeper pockets here? The average polluter or the average victim?  I envision this fund such that fees paid by winning litigants today would fund expert salaries tomorrow.

Ugh. Now my Corny! thought balloon wants me to name the fund "Pay It Forward". 

Oh, I love visits from the New Perspective thought balloon (last one, I promise): If it makes you feel better, we could rename the fee a tax on losing polluters.  After all, the money could be deducted from the source directly.  Think about it anyway you like; the end purpose is to strengthen national technical capacity on environmental litigation.  That's a win-win-win in my book.
Protests seeking fair compensation from Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the world's worst chemical disaster
Source: Greenpeace


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Powered by Blogger