Environmental Law Australia

Chain of responsibility laws

This short conference presentation examined how Queensland’s chain of responsibility (CoRA) laws offer a new tool to pay for remediation of contaminated sites.

Background and summary

In 2016 the Queensland Government created “chain of responsibility” laws in response to a spate of projects where conditions of approval, financial assurances and other regulatory tools proved inadequate to manage and rehabilitate contaminated sites operated by companies experiencing financial difficulties.

These laws were inserted into the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) by creating new powers for the regulator to issue orders to “related persons” of companies to carry out environmental obligations of the company, including rehabilitation.

A “related person” is defined widely but centered around the person having received a significant financial benefit from the company’s activities.

Several recent court decisions illustrate the operation of the laws in practice, including constitutional difficulties due to possible inconsistency with provisions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

This presentation on Queensland’s new CoRA laws was given at 5th Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium, held at QUT in Brisbane on 14-15 February 2019.

The slides for the presentation are available here.