Specialist 'environmental court' gets NRSA backing

The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) has endorsed a plan to create an environmental court overseeing cases involving pollution and its impact on the public.

The NRSA on Tuesday voted 90 to 1 with 10 abstentions in favour of approving a report proposed by a national reform committee on law and justice. The meeting, held at parliament, was chaired by the assembly's vice-chairman, Alongkorn Ponlaboot. The report will soon be forwarded to the Justice Ministry, the National Legislative Assembly and the cabinet for consideration.

Sayumporn Limthai, a member of the reform committee and former member of the now-defunct National Reform Council, said the court, which will specialise in environmental issues, should be set up to handle lawsuits associated with the degradation of natural resources and pollution.

Creating the court will help standardise the judicial process in environmental cases and put it on par with international practices, advocates say. It will also help provide fairness to all sides, particularly villagers.

Mr Sarumporn said the court, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice (COJ), would oversee civil, criminal and administrative cases in accordance with the "polluter pays" principle, which holds that those responsible for the damaging emissions must pay compensation.

Environmental cases are currently split into three camps, with civil cases handled by the Civil Court, criminal cases overseen by the COJ, and administrative cases supervised by the Administrative Court.

One potential problem is a paucity of experts on environmental matters in the Civil Court and the COJ. The result, analysts say, is that private firms are more likely to win their cases. By contrast, the Administrative Court, which deals with cases against the state, and which has more experts on pollution cases, often orders the state to pay the public high compensation.

Source URL:Bangkok Post