An enforceable undertaking is a legally enforceable agreement that involves a duty holder promising to take agreed actions. If there’s a breach of an enforceable undertaking, the courts can enforce it.

Under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) an enforceable undertaking has a broader application than it did under the Environment Protection Act 1970.

EPA can accept an enforceable undertaking for any matter where we have a power or function under the Act or Regulations. It’s not just considered as an alternative to prosecution.

When we can consider an enforceable undertaking

Enforceable undertakings are considered in the context of the Act, EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement policy, and the specific matter. They can be considered when:

  • the person or company takes active responsibility for the issue or the offence and its impacts
  • it’s the most appropriate form of response given the nature of the issue or offence and compliance history of the person
  • it will achieve an outcome that’s comparable to the results of a civil proceeding or prosecution.

Aims of an enforceable undertaking

An enforceable undertaking can help implement systemic change and ensures that duty holders meet their legal obligations to prevent future breaches of the law.

The actions in an enforceable undertaking should deliver positive outcomes and:

  • respond to the breach or compliance issue and any risk of harm and impacts
  • prevent future risk of harm to human health and the environment
  • provide benefits to the environment, industry sector or community that go beyond mere compliance with the law.

More information about enforceable undertakings is available in EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy (publication 1798).

Enforceable undertakings under the Environment Protection Act 1970

Existing enforceable undertakings that were created under the Environment Protection Act 1970 are still in force. Browse the Register of enforceable undertakings.

Read next

Compliance and enforcement

Compliance and enforcement policy (publication 1798)

Reviewed 4 August 2021