FALLING FOUL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
COMPLIANCE NOTICES AND DIRECTIVES
When served with a compliance notice or directive, or any other notice initiating environmental enforcement action, it is crucial for you to understand both your rights as well as obligations.
WHAT IS A COMPLIANCE NOTICE?
A Compliance Notice is a contravention notice issued by an Environmental Management Inspector (green scorpion) in situations where a person is suspected of not complying with a provision of environmental law, or is suspected of not complying with a condition of an authorisation or permit issued to the person.
WHAT IS A DIRECTIVE?
Directives are somewhat similar but are more broad in the sense that there are quite a number of situations in which a directive may be served on a person. The other important difference between a directive and a compliance notice is that a directive is issued by the Head of Department of a provincial environmental authority or the Director-General of the national environmental authority.
This distinction between Compliance Notices and Directives becomes important when one decides to mount a legal challenge against the issuing of a notice or directive.
YOUR RIGHTS :
You have the right to just administrative action, which means that the enforcement notice should be fully compliant with the regulatory procedures, in addition to being factually correct and addressed to the correct person who is or has allegedly carried out the offending activity.
The official who issued you with the notice must be empowered by the specific legislation to issue or sign such notice.
An important factor to consider is that any environmental enforcement action will more than likely request you to cease the offending activity.
If the enforcement notices are issued to you, you are obligated to comply with the notice, directive or instructions contained therein.
Failure to comply could result in criminal charges being brought against you. In addition, the government department concerned could seek an interdict against you from continuing with your allegedly unlawful activity, or compelling you to comply with the contents of the enforcement notice.
If the interdictory relief is granted by the court, your continued disregard would obviously constitute contempt of court. Which means you could end up in jail or pay a fine. And this is only the beginning of your woes…
One thing is for sure, you should NEVER ignore a compliance notice or directive !