It is being hailed as a “victory for environmental law” by the legal team that convinced France’s highest court to uphold the Erika conviction against Total.
The oil giant will pay more than 200 million euros in damages and fines for the spill that damaged 400 kilometres of Brittany’s coastline, causing one of France’s worst environmental disasters.
Lawyer for the victims Corinne Lepage said: “This is a great day for all defenders of the environment. Because the Court of Cassation upheld the jurisdiction of the French court.”
“It also confirmed the ecological damage. In addition, it found that Total committed the offence of recklessness and will have to repair the civil damage.”
Brittany’s beaches were covered with oil and polluted for a generation after the 24-year-old single-hulled tanker Erika split apart in a storm off the northwest coast of France in December 1999.