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Keywords:

  • environmental externalities;
  • dwellings;
  • air pollution;
  • noise pollution;
  • water seepage;
  • water leakage

In 1960, Ronald Coase suggested that there are many methods to solve the problem of externalities apart from imposing Pigovian taxes. Internalisation is one of those noted in his classic paper, ‘The Problem of Social Cost’. This paper studies the possibility of residents receiving compensation from pollutant generators. Data collected from Hong Kong law reports over the past 20 years show that there is forty-fold increase in number of water seepage court cases since the first case in 1994. The total amount of compensation has also increased greatly. There are, however, far fewer court cases where residents seek compensation from generators of noise and air pollution. This may reflect a combination of high transaction costs and low expected benefits from such cases.