Brazil: Supreme Court rules there is no time bar for environmental claims

The question of whether environmental claims in Brazil are subject to time bars, and if so, what the prescription periods would be, has finally been put to rest. Loggers had filed an appeal to the Supreme Court (STF), Brazil's constitutional court, to challenge the judgments of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Brazil's highest court for non-constitutional issues. The latter had repeatedly ruled that environmental damage could not be barred by the passage of time. 

On 17 April 2020, by majority votes in a plenary session, the STF established the legal thesis that "the claim for civil reparation of environmental damage is imprescriptible". This thesis has binding effect which means it will benefit and bind the parties and their respective heirs, successors and permitted assigns. 

Seeing that pollution claims in Brazil may be commenced many years after the event, shipowners, operators and their liability insurers are advised to keep their records on incidents which may potentially lead to environmental claims for as long as their companies exist. Members are referred to the Club Correspondents' Proinde Circular|23 April 2020 for additional information.

Staff Author