The causer of an environmental damage, be it the pollution of soil, air or body of water, faces different obligations. In this context, necessary remediation, the costs of which have to be borne by the causer, are a key instrument. Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that there is also the risk of considerable criminal liability – for involved individuals within the company or possibly the company itself.
The so-called environmental criminal law itself is composed of penalty clauses contained in environmental laws (e.g. in the Federal Act on the Protection of the Environment or the Federal Act on the Protection of the Environment). Their peculiarity lies in the fact that criminal sanctions are imposed for the violation of administrative duties (in an act or an ordinance), which were not primarily conceived as criminal offences. With this in mind, which behaviour is relevant or not with regard to criminal prosecution is not equally and consistently foreseeable as with typical criminal offences. Therefore, in order to safeguard its interests, it is indispensable for a company to have knowledge of the bases of environmental legislation as well as of the penal consequences and the corresponding procedure.
A company which is about to be made accountable for an environmental damage must know its legal environmental duties. Because of the criminal sanctions, which are possible within the environmental legislation, it is indispensable to prepare a criminal defence as well.