In Focus: Development and prospect of environmental civil public interest litigation

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17

The environmental public interest litigation (EPIL) is playing an increasingly important role in Chinas environmental protection. 2023 is the tenth anniversary of the implementation of the legal system of environmental public interest litigation. The Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, which went into effect on January 1, 2013, has established the environmental public interest litigation system from the legal level for the first time. In the past ten years, the EPIL system has been continuously improved. The Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China and Administrative Litigation Law of the People’s Republic of China lay the legal foundation for environmental public interest litigation, and then the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China stipulates a special chapter “Liability for Environmental Pollution and Ecological Damage” in Tort Liability Book, finally forming an environmental public interest litigation system with the combination of various forms of litigation such as civil public interest litigation, procuratorial public interest litigation, and ecological and environmental damage compensation litigation, including civil public interest litigation, administrative public interest litigation, and criminal incidental civil public interest litigation. Over the past ten years, as an important part of the legal system of ecological civilization, the environmental public interest litigation system has become an important legal defense line for protecting the environment and improving people’s livelihood and well-being.

As the highlight in the field of environmental public interest litigation, environmental civil public interest litigation has accumulated a wealth of practical experience in the course of ten years of development. Meanwhile, it is also facing some practical difficulties. How to address the problems and difficulties in this process, in order to better safeguard the public interests, has become the focus of general attention and discussion.

At present, the problems and difficulties in the development of environmental civil public interest litigation include: the degree of participation by social organizations in environmental civil public interest litigation; the application of laws to environmental civil public interest litigation at different levels of legal systems; the distribution of the burden of proof and identification of the causal relationship in environmental civil public interest litigation; and social organizations paying for the case acceptance fee, etc.

This month’s journal focuses on topics related to the development and prospects of environmental civil public interest litigation, and discusses with readers the protection of public interests under the ecological civilization system.