Slovakia: Owners’ obligations concerning environmentally polluted land in Slovakia

From 1 June 2022, landowners could become liable for removal of pollution, regardless of whether they are the actual polluters.

A recent amendment to the Environmental Pollution Act broke the current ‘polluter pays’ principle that the polluter is responsible for environmental pollution of land and bears the cost of removal, bringing uncertainty with regard to the legal position of landowners, who were only obliged to perform an environmental clean-up at their own expense in exceptional cases.

The amendment, coming into force on 1 June 2022, changes the existing regulations and may impose a significant financial burden on landowners.

The amendment establishes the principle that if the state pays the cost of removal of the pollution, it has to demand compensation/repayment of such costs from the owner.

As an alternative to repayment of the costs of an environmental clean-up, landowners can establish a lien over the land to secure the state’s claim.

However, the law does not contain a clearly formulated obligation for owners to reimburse the costs of environmental clean-up after a lien has been established. Landowners are neither restricted in their possibilities of disposal, nor does the law establish an obligation to satisfy the state’s claims from remuneration for the transfer of the encumbered land. Furthermore, landowners do not have a recourse claim against the polluter.

Experts point out the inadequacies of the amendment and their negative impact on the rights and obligations of landowners in Slovakia. In light of these points, enforcing the amendment to the Environmental Pollution Act in the future is questionable. Nevertheless, an environmental due diligence when purchasing real estate in Slovakia is recommended even more strongly than ever.

Source:

  1. 409/2011 Coll. Act on Certain Measures in the Field of Environmental Pollution.

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