Harm to the Environment: The Right to Compensation and the Assessment of Damages

By Peter Wetterstein | Go to book overview

6
Harm to the Environment in Italian Practice: The Interaction of International Law and Domestic Law

ANDREA BIANCHI


1. INTRODUCTION

The award of damages for environmental harm in the Patmos litigation,1 as well as the claim set forth by the Italian Government in relation to the Haven incident,2 causes one to wonder whether Italian practice is consistent with contemporary international law and practice. The stance taken by the Italian Government as regards purely ecological damage caused by oil spills, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal of the Messina district in the Patmos case,3prima facie marks a notable departure from the practice of the states that are parties to both the 1969 Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLQ and the 1971 Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (Fund Convention).4 The evaluation of Italian practice entails an investigation of complex issues of treaty interpretation and an in-depth analysis of the relationship between international and domestic law in the Italian legal system.

The vast echo that the Patmos case has had in the international community partly accounts for the special emphasis put on it in this Chapter. However, the

____________________
1
The Court of Appeal of Messina issued the final damage award on 24 Dec.1993: see Ministero della marina mercantile e Ministero dell'interno v. Patmos Shipping Co., The United Kingdom Steamship Co., International Oil Pollution Fund (henceforward Patmos III), reproduced in ( 1994): 9 Rivista giuridica dell'ambiente683-94.
2
See International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund: Annual Report 1994,46ff.
3
The principle that ecological damage must be compensated had been asserted by the Court of Appeal of Messina in its judgment of 22 May 1989: Ministero della marina mercantile e Ministero dell' interno v. Patmos Shipping Co., The United Kingdom Mutual Steamship Assurance Ass., International Oil Pollution Fund (henceforward Patmos II), reproduced in 1049-58.
4
Both Conventions entered into force for Italy on 28 May 1979. For a comment, see M. Jacobsson, "The International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage and the Activities of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund", in C. M. De La Rue (ed.), Liability for Damage to the Marine Environment ( 1993), 39-55.

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