Litigation for failure to warn of natural hazards and community resilience1

Michael Eburn


Archived Article


Kumar and Srivastava, in their book, Tsunami and Disaster Management: Law and Governance, argue that governments should be strictly liable for failure to warn of impending disasters. In this paper Eburn looks at that argument in the context of Australian law and finds that bringing a legal action for failure to warn may be easier than suing responders, but such an action would still face considerable legal hurdles and may pose a threat to long term community resilience. The paper is particularly timely given the current litigation arising from the 2003 Canberra bushfires and the alleged failure of ACT emergency services to issue adequate and timely warnings.