Changes to directors’ liability: Increased burden of proof in less serious environmental offences

Changes in the law reduce the circumstances in which directors and managers should face liability for environmental offences by their corporations. The new laws categorise actions into more and less serious offences.

The burden of proof now rests with the prosecution for less serious offences. Importantly, the prosecution is required to prove a corporate officer’s involvement, whether by act or omission, in the commission of the offence. This shift is expected to reduce the number of prosecutions of corporate officers.

However, the presumption of responsibility continues to apply in cases of most serious environmental offences.

These include such offences as failing to comply with conditions of an environment protection licence, polluting waters and failing to notify authorities of a pollution incident.

Contact your solicitor if you would like more information about your directorial responsibilities.