SEA LEVEL LAW: Case Studies On Council Liabilities

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One of the key trends in domestic and international climate litigation is in trying to establish who is liable for taking (or not taking) adaptation measures.

There have been at least 19 court challenges in Aotearoa to council decisions on adaptation to sea level rise. Currently, councils have a lot of leeway in their approaches to climate hazard risks, including sea-level rise. Court action across the nation is testing the limits of council authority, and showing up gaps in the legislative and policy environment.

And even though leeway exists for councils, some of their options will incur larger future liability costs than others. Further, some councils –  at least some of those involved in making adaptation decisions – appear to be unaware of the extent of their possible liability.

In this seminar, Catherine Iorns (Victoria University of Wellington) will take you through one aspect of her broad-ranging research into "Sea level rise, housing and insurance: Liability and compensation".

About our presenter

Catherine Iorns is a Professor of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. Her research interests focus on Environmental Law and Management while also covering Indigenous Rights and Statutory Interpretation. Her current research covers a range of topics including climate adaptation laws, freshwater, deep seabed mining, Māori environmental justice, and responsibility frameworks for nature. She is also involved in the current appeal of the Draft Water Conservation Order for Te Waikoropupū Springs.


Virtual hui: 

To participate via ZOOM, please register here first (and download Zoom to your computer).

Email: [email protected]


This seminar is part of our Constant Change seminar series. We hope you'll join us online from home or your office, to make sure we keep climate change at the forefront of planning and investment in this time of global pandemic.

Start date
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 12:00
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Programme type: Earth Systems Modelling and Prediction Engagement Impacts and Implications Processes and Observations Vision Mātauranga