Supreme Court: entities and environmental crimes

Table of contents

Recent judgment on company’s own interest and benefit in the area of company administrative liability and environmental crimes

Protecting the planet is one of our core global priorities. What did the Italian Supreme Court say about companies and environmental crimes?

In recent years, Italy has introduced stricter regulations and higher fines for offenders of environmental crimes that cause considerable damage or pose a serious threat to the environment and human health.

The most common environmental crimes under the Environment Protection Act (Legislative Decree 152/2006) include:

  • illegal emission or discharge of substances into air, water, or soil
  • illegal shipment or dumping of waste
  • illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances.

Fines can be imposed on both offending individuals and companies or enterprises that have benefited from the commission of an offence.

The Company Administrative Liability Act (Legislative Decree 231/2001) prescribes harsh punishments for violations of the Environment Protection Act.

Therefore, implementing a robust Organizational Model is crucial for crime prevention..

Supreme Court decision: company’s own interest and benefit

The Supreme Court of Cassation has often addressed the issue of a company’s own interest or benefit in the context of 231 environmental crimes.

In Supreme Court judgment No. 21034 21034, May 30, 2022, a company was found guilty of the offence of “Discharging industrial wastewater containing hazardous substances” under Article 137 of the Environment Protection Act.

In one case, the company discharged hazardous wastewater generated from industrial processes into the environment.

Despite it being a one-off occurrence, the Supreme Court found that the company had unfairly reduced costs by violating waste collection and disposal regulations.

This, combined with the lack of an organizational, management, and control model, led to a finding of poor management and the decision to impose a substantial fine on the company.

The Supreme Court also established that the interest or undue advantage requirement is met if wrongdoing is the result of poor business decisions despite it being a one-off occurrence.

Therefore, a company may be punished under Legislative Decree 231/2001 for having inadequate policies and procedures, regardless of whether the wrongdoing led to an actual reduction in operating cost.

Table of contents

Related articles

Share on

Come possiamo aiutarti?