Environmental Law Enforcement

Environmental law enforcement: a comparison of practice in the criminal and the administrative tracks

  • Project promotor: Prof. Dr. Luc Lavrysen
  • Project coordinator: Dr. Carole M. Billiet
  • Partners
  • UGent Center for Environmental and Energy Law (Centrum voor Milieu- en Energierecht) (CM&ER) – Prof. Dr. Luc Lavrysen, Dr. Carole M. Billiet, Roel Meeus, Nicky Broeckhoven & Sofie Renders
  • KULeuven Center for Economic Studies (CES), Research Group Energy, Transport and Environment – Prof. Dr. Stef Proost, Prof. Dr. Sandra Rousseau, Thomas Blondiau & Lotte Ovaere)
  • UGent Research Group International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP) – Prof. Dr. Tom Vander Beken & Annelies Balcaen
  • Mol Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) – Karel Styns & ir. Geert De Meyer
  • UTilburg (The Netherlands) Department of Consitutional and Administrative Law, chair Administrative Law – Prof. Dr. Lex Michiels & Annick Sauvé
  • Sponsored by the Institute for the Encouragement of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) in the credit line for Strategic Fundamental Research (SBO) (Strategisch Basisonderzoek)


On April 1st 2007 the research project “Environmental Law Enforcement: a Comparison of Practice in the Criminal and the Administrative Tracks” took off. The project lasted for four years (until March 31st 2011) and investigated the enforcement of environmental law. More particularly, we studied and compared environmental law sanctioning practices in the criminal and the administrative sanctioning tracks.

A multidisciplinary research project, the research team brought together expertise in law (cross-cutting through environmental law, administrative law and criminal law), economics (in particular environmental economics) and Law & economics. The research was conducted by the Center for Environmental & Energy Law of the UGent (2007-2011), the Research Group Energy, Transport and Environment of the KULeuven (2007-2011), the Research Group for International Research on Criminal Policy of the UGent (2007-2010) and the Department for Constitutional and Administrative Law of the UTilburg (2008-2009), and was given crucial support by the Flemish Institute of Technological Research (2007-2010) for the development of a database. Additional support was given by the Center for Sustainable Development (CEDON) of the HUBrussel (2008 – 2011).

The database that was constructed for the study of the environmental sanctioning practices differs substantially from conventional case-law surveys. First, it includes administrative sanctioning decisions, which do not appear in case-law surveys and are not published anywhere else either. Second, it is not limited to judgments and administrative sanctioning decisions but documents the whole sanctioning pathway, including the handling of files at the prosecutors’ offices and the execution of sanctions. Third, data are collected and searchable at file level (as opposed to aggregated data). More on the database elsewhere in this website.


The project summary put online in 2007 gives more information on the research background, challenges and goals.