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Environmental rules and regulations are becoming ever tighter. The authorities are strict in monitoring compliance. Violating permit conditions can lead to crippling fines, or even shut-downs.
Environmental criminal law is a highly specialist field. The majority of Dutch environmental rules and regulations are based on European Regulations and Directives, implemented in national laws, decrees, policy plans and permits.
Our lawyers have extensive experience in this so-called ‘layered’ legislation. For years, they have been assisting multinationals, provinces, municipalities and leading companies in the waste, transport and construction sectors. This can be either as defence counsel in a criminal case, but also by auditing companies and advising them on their environmental policies, at a time when they have not yet been in trouble with the authorities and would like to keep it that way.
Many environmental criminal cases stem from administrative inspections. It is therefore important to realise that the data supplied to the supervising body by a company or employee, may later be used against them at a later stage in criminal proceedings.
It can be difficult to distinguish between administrative supervision and criminal enforcement, because many inspectors are also investigating officers. Make sure you know which ‘hat’ they are wearing when talking to them.
Never underestimate the seriousness of violations. Violations you yourself may consider minor, can result in enormous fines. And each violation will end up on your company’s judicial record. This may cause future problems when applying for permits, certificates of good conduct et cetera.
Environmental criminal law is criminal law. Knowledge of environmental law is not sufficient in bringing criminal proceedings to a satisfactory end. For that, you will need a lawyer who is well-versed in both fields of law. Our office has such lawyers.