Poacher pays? : Judges’ liability decisions in a mock trial about environmental harm caused by illegal wildlife trade

Fajrini, Rika and Nichols, Rebecca M. and Phelps, Jacob (2022) Poacher pays? : Judges’ liability decisions in a mock trial about environmental harm caused by illegal wildlife trade. Biological Conservation, 266: 109445. ISSN 0006-3207

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Conservation litigation applies environmental liability law to biodiversity conservation contexts—holding parties who harm biodiversity responsible for providing remedies such as restoration, compensation, apologies and investments into education and cultural activities. Many countries have enabling legislation, but these types of lawsuits are rare in most countries and have been infrequently used to protect biodiversity from drivers such as illegal wildlife trade. Yet, these types of cases could be strategically used to provide remedies for cases of egregious harm and help catalyze social change through the power of judicial decisions. The viability of future cases, however, relies heavily on the judges and juries who adjudicate cases. Rather than wait potentially decades for test cases to emerge to help evaluate the success of this strategy, we conducted mock trials and post-trial interviews with Indonesian judges (N = 32), a population that is rarely explored in conservation science. We presented them with a hypothetical civil lawsuit in a case of illegal tiger trade, which sought to hold the defendant liable for providing 11 different remedies to address the harm purportedly caused by their actions. The results show that judges were very amenable to providing remedies in this type of civil lawsuit; for eight of the 11 claims, over 60% of the respondents indicated each claim would be likely to be accepted. The results also highlighted six key themes important in judicial decision-making, which provide insights for practitioners developing future lawsuits. The results suggest a favorable setting for testing real-world application of liability laws to remedy biodiversity harm, which may become an important part of future environmental governance.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Biological Conservation
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Biological Conservation. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Biological Conservation, 266, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109445
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? conservation litigationlawenvironmental governanceliabilityjudicial decision-makingwildlife tradeecology, evolution, behavior and systematicsnature and landscape conservation ??
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Deposited On:
02 Feb 2022 10:11
Last Modified:
19 Apr 2024 02:25