Purpose of the bill
Setting out a special regime of civil liability for damages in connection with a nuclear incident.
Providing for a specific legal framework for restitution and compensation in the event of a nuclear incident causing damages on the territory of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which will be more advantageous for potential victims than the existing common law regime and the various applicable international conventions.
Enabling introduction of legal actions before the Luxembourg Courts in relation to damages to persons, property or the environment on the Luxembourg territory without the need for the victim to prove the nuclear plant operator's fault.
Type of damage set out by the bill
The bill regulates the civil liability regime concerning compensation for damages to persons and property which is caused directly or indirectly by a nuclear incident.
A nuclear incident is defined as an unusual situation/event that causes or could cause serious adverse consequences to human health and safety, quality of life, property or the environment.
Contrary to what is provided for in international conventions in relation to the liability of operators for injuries resulting from a nuclear incident, the proposed Luxembourg bill provides in its current form that damage caused to the environment by a nuclear incident may also be the subject to an appropriate compensation.
Operator of a nuclear installation to be held liable based on a presumption of fault
The bill enables the victim of a nuclear incident to bring a liability action against the operator of the nuclear installation (defined as "any natural or legal person under public or private law, any international organisation with legal personality, the State, or any other public authority, as well as any public or private entity without legal personality having overall responsibility for a nuclear installation as specified in the licence and any national authority responsible for the energy policies concerned").
The bill provides for a liability regime irrespective of any fault committed by the operator of the nuclear installation. On the basis of the presumed liability of the operator of the nuclear installation, it will be sufficient for the victim to prove that his or her injury is the direct or indirect result of a nuclear incident.
Such presumption can only be reversed if the operator is able to prove that the damage is not related to the nuclear incident in question.
Absence of threshold of damages
The bill does not currently foresee any maximum amount of damages. Both direct and indirect damages can be sought after and compensation can be requested.
Exemption of the operator
The operator of the nuclear installation can only exhonerate from liability if he can prove a fault of the victim. Exemptions based on an event of force majeure are excluded.
Limitation period to introduce legal action
The proposed statute of limitation period is much longer than the commonly provided for by applicable law in the countries operating nuclear energy.
Indeed, the bill provides for a limitation period of 30 years from the date of the nuclear incident, to introduce legal actions.
Competence of Luxembourg Courts
A broad definition has been adopted.
The bill sets out that Luxembourg Courts have jurisdiction to hear actions for compensation resulting from a nuclear incident in the following cases:
- damages with regard to persons who were on Luxembourg territory at the time of the harmful event. This definition also covers non-resident persons who are temporarily on Luxembourg territory, such as cross-border workers or tourist.
- damages with regard to Luxembourg residents,
- damages occurring on Luxembourg territory.
This bill is at an advanced stage of the legislative process. Approval by Parliament should therefore occur in the near future.