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Environmental risks

The operation of your business may cause pollution damage that can affect both the natural environment (groundwater, ponds, animals, crops, etc.) and the human environment (the area surrounding your business premises).

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When can a business be held liable?

You are liable when your activity causes pollution.


Pollution can be either:

  • sudden, when the pollution appears immediately after an incident
  • or gradual, when its effects are seen over time.

Note that a distinction is made between the different types of liability.

  • Pollution Liability (incurred if your activity is the cause of pollution leading to damage in your surrounding area)
  • Liability for ecological damage (which obliges the company to repair the ecological damage caused by its activity or products. This refers to damage to the environment, water, soil, air, species and collective benefits derived by humans from the environment)
  • Environmental impairment liability (in case of soil contamination with direct impact on human health, damage to ecological, chemical or quantitative status or damage to protected species and natural habitats, it will be obligatory to provide compensation)

We need to distinguish between pollution liability and environmental impairment liability, which requires compensation for damage caused to the environment (water, land, air), based on the ‘polluter pays’ principle, without a third-party victim having been identified.

Which businesses are affected?

Any business, whatever its sector, size or activity, may be held liable if said activity causes pollution that results in material damage, bodily injury and/or consequencial financial losses to third parties. This is why all professional, commercial, industrial or artisanal businesses are required to take out liability for environmental damage insurance.

Without the right insurance, you will have to compensate the victims yourself to repair the damage, which can be very expensive.

Who can hold the business liable?

A victim or a group of victims who request financial compensation for the damage suffered can initiate a claim.