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(Environmental) Enforcement and Emergencies

Violating rules can result in administrative sanctions, enabling authorities to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Administrative bodies, such as municipal executive boards, provincial executive boards and ministers can impose various sanctions for violations: penalty payments, administrative enforcement orders, or administrative fines. As enforcement serves the public interest, the competent administrative body must use its authority to enforce compliance in cases of violation. Only under exceptional circumstances may the administrative body be required to refrain from enforcement.

Sanctions have significant implications for offenders and can pose legal and practical challenges for the administrative body. Decisions must be made regarding the choice of enforcement instrument and the timeframe given to rectify the violation. Additionally, a balancing of interests must occur, and the sanction decision must be thoroughly justified. There's also consideration of whether imposing conservatory measures is advisable.


During emergencies, numerous decisions must be made promptly. These include measures to mitigate consequences and to contain potential societal unrest. Actions during emergencies are often taken swiftly and under pressure, sometimes without adequate consideration of the legal consequences. While understandable, this can lead to reputational damage and other adverse effects. Making more targeted decisions during crises increases the likelihood of successfully enforcing measures and/or recovering costs, thus minimising reputational damage, civil claims and other negative outcomes.

Our Space and Environment team has extensive experience advising on and drafting enforcement decisions, even in crisis situations.

We provide advice on whom enforcement should be directed towards, impose conservatory measures, and negotiate with offenders to secure funds for cleaning up environmental burdens. If necessary, we argue cases in court.

Our team has handled various environmental emergencies, such as the fire at Chemie-Pack and asbestos fires in Wateringen, Roermond, Moerdijk, and contaminations like those at Chemours in Dordrecht. Additionally, we have extensive experience with maritime incidents.

We regularly offer 'lessons-learned' courses on enforcement during emergencies. If you are interested, please contact us.

With our emergency app, we provide a tool for enforcement during emergencies.