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Environmental Liability and Regulation: An Empirical Study of the French Institutional Division of Labour


  • Pierre Bentata

    () (CERGAM-CAE, Aix-Marseille Université)

  • Karim Barkat

    () (CERGAM-CAE, Aix-Marseille Université)


Reasons for the joint use of ex ante regulation and ex post liability to cope with environmental accidents have been a longstanding issue in law and economics literature. This article, which includes the first empirical study of the French environmental legal system, analyzes courts’ decisions when injurers complied with regulatory standards. The results support a general trend toward a clear division of labour between regulation and liability: when both are jointly used, liability encourages aspects of care that are difficult to regulate, especially human behaviour and organization within dangerous entities. An unexpected effect of liability is observed: judges are more severe with the most regulated firms and public agents compared to smaller, private actors. This might be interpreted as complementing regulation when enforcement of regulatory standards is thought to be weak.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Bentata & Karim Barkat, 2012. "Environmental Liability and Regulation: An Empirical Study of the French Institutional Division of Labour," CAE Working Papers 98, Aix-Marseille Université, CERGAM.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgm:wpaper:98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vera Angelova & Olivier Armantier & Giuseppe Attanasi & Yolande Hiriart, 2014. "Relative performance of liability rules: experimental evidence," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 531-556, December.
    2. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2000. "On the joint use of liability and safety regulation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 371-382, September.
    3. Hiriart, Yolande & Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2010. "The public management of risk: Separating ex ante and ex post monitors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1008-1019, December.
    4. Hiriart, Yolande & Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2004. "On the optimal use of ex ante regulation and ex post liability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 231-235, August.
    5. Bhole, Bharat & Wagner, Jeffrey, 2008. "The joint use of regulation and strict liability with multidimensional care and uncertain conviction," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 123-132, June.
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    More about this item


    Regulation; Liability; Environmental Risk; Institutional Design;

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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