In the wake of the environmental disaster in Fukushima, the German Federal Government decided to abandon nuclear energy. The affected power plant operators are now claiming substantial damages. As an independent law firm, BBH has decided to stand firmly alongside the federal states.
When we agreed to legally represent the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in the constitutional complaint against extending the service life of nuclear power plants, no one could foresee the full implications of the proceedings. At that time, the federal states decided to object to the service life extension, which would have required the consent of the Bundesrat (Federal Council) in line with Germany’s Basic Law. From the very beginning, we took the view that a legislative amendment of such scope could not be adopted without approval by the Bundesrat. We were also of the opinion that the power plant operators had held a dominant market position for years.
With the decision to phase out nuclear energy, the service life extension has de facto been completely revoked. In addition to the immediate shut-down of eight nuclear power plants, all remaining plants are also scheduled to be decommissioned by 2022. The affected power plant operators therefore demanded damages to compensate for the profits they would have earned over the extended service life as initially defined. On 6 December 2016 the federal court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) finally confirmed the that the nuclear phase out 2011 is in accordance with the constitution. The operators are not entitled to get compensated; they are only granted a certain equation. BBH has represented the federal states Bremen, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz in this important lawsuit.
The issue of finding suitable repositories for nuclear waste will occupy us for even longer, along with the question of whether those who have profited for decades from nuclear power should not also be responsible for the costs that it engenders. The environmentally friendly use of gas also plays an important role in the energy transition, and in this area we advise the Republic of Albania on a project which is pivotal to ensuring future gas supply in Europe: the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. We were involved in all negotiations concerning the investment protection agreement and the international treaty, from the initial drafts to the final versions.