This page relates to EPA’s policies and tools under the Environment Protection Act 1970. To find out about EPA’s compliance and enforcement role under the Environment Protection Act 2017, which is intended to come into effect on 1 July 2021, visit the compliance and enforcement page.
EPA conducts prosecutions before the courts under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (‘the EP Act’) and the Pollution of Waters by Oil and Noxious Substances Act 1986.
Prosecutions seek to provide an appropriate sanction to the offender and act as a deterrent. EPA will consider prosecuting an individual or company when other enforcement measures are inadequate, or unlikely, to ensure ongoing compliance.
The decision on whether to prosecute for a breach of environmental laws is significant, as the effect on those involved (the defendant/accused and/or the community) will be considerable. In deciding whether or not to prosecute, EPA adopts the guidelines of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – in particular, Policy 2: the Prosecutorial Discretion, available at www.opp.vic.gov.au – which are based on the Australian Prosecutorial Guidelines.
Environmental offences are generally indictable or serious criminal offences. EPA must operate within a broader prosecutorial framework as part of the criminal justice system. This requires the highest standard of integrity to be applied to any decisions around prosecutions.
In cases where there are several possible defendants, EPA may prosecute one, some or all parties, depending on the circumstances. If a corporation by act or omission has broken the law, section 66B of the EP Act also holds individual directors and those concerned in the management of the corporation to account, subject to some defences.
More information about prosecutions is available in EPA’s compliance and enforcement policy.
This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 25 September 2018.
Reviewed 6 November 2020