Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adjunct Professor William J. Brady Invited to Present Paper at the Oxford Round Table at the University of Oxford

Adjunct Professor William J. Brady has been invited to attend and present a paper entitled “The Financial Crisis and Environmental Catastrophe Insurance” at this year’s meeting of the Oxford Round Table (ORT) at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

This year’s topic for the Oxford Round Table is "Money, Politics, and Law: Effects of the Meltdown on the Human Condition."

Prof. Brady is a partner in the Denver law firm of Grimshaw & Harring, PC. The symposium participants consist of 40 academic invitees from multiple disciplines. The ORT advisory committee chooses presentations based on abstracts submitted by invitees. Professor Mads Andenas, Professor of Law, University of Oslo, and a Fellow of the Institute of European and Comparative Law, University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, will serve as chairperson for this year's symposium.

Professor Brady has been selected to deliver a lecture and PowerPoint presentation, based on the following approved abstract:
"The looming specter of coming environmental catastrophes presents a 'worldwide financial crisis' of never-before-imagined proportions. Yet poorly understood concepts of risk transfer cloud the future.

"Over the past two decades, an explosion in lawsuits concerning past environmental and natural resources damages and government-mandated remediation has erupted in the developed world. Disputes commonly arise over liability when contaminate releases occur at industrial complexes and seaports, municipal owned or operated landfills and airports, active or closed military installations or weapons facilities, nuclear power plants, and other hazardous/toxic waste sites.

"Corporate policyholders continue to scurry to secure insurance coverage for potentially staggering liabilities, not knowing whether their insurers and retrocessionaires will be capable of performing as promised.

"The US EPA has estimated that the cost of cleaning up toxic waste at more than 60,000 disposal sites in the US may run as high as $500 billion, and worldwide remediation could run into the trillions, leading policyholders and insurers to adopt a 'scorched earth' litigation posture. In many jurisdictions, courts are venturing into uncharted areas of insurance coverage, knowing that the stakes for both policyholder and insurer are high. The very survival of insurers, public and private companies and, in some instances, entire communities, is threatened by staggering response costs designed to achieve a safe and clean environment.

"The questions to be answered are patent:

"Can a fiscally responsible world afford the mega-liability clean up and remediation expense, or alternatively, afford not to respond? What are the consequences of the latter?

"Is there enough current capacity in the global insurance market to cover these risks? Should governments in the developed world assume a lead role in creating multi-national, public-private partnership, insurance pools to meet the financial crises posed by future eco-terrorism or environmental catastrophe?

"Can and should funding be appropriated from the imposition of a worldwide carbon tax to meet this challenge?"

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