The Amount of petroleum products that are transported on the seaway is increasing steadily. Therefore it is necessary, to take measures to reduce risks and prevent harm. Agreements, elaborated under the auspices of the IMO, are an important contribution to the environmental protection and the improvement of safety standards. Also on European level, numerous legal norms were enacted to protect the marine environment and to prevent maritime disasters. The accident of the ?Erika? in the year 1999 was a relevant incentive for European legislation. But the sinking of the ?Prestige? in the year 2002 demonstrated that the existing legal norms were not sufficient. In succession, efforts have been made on European and international level to improve the environmental protection and the damage award system. This dissertation treats the criminal and civil liability from maritime disasters using the example of the sinking of the oil-tanker ?Prestige?. Herein, the emphasis lies on environmental penal law. Apart from the comparison of Austrian and Spanish environmental penal law, their auxiliary to administrative law is described. The nucleus of this work is the appliance of environmental penal laws on the case of the ?Prestige?, as well as the civil liability from the delict. In this matter, a particularity of the Código Penal that includes legal norms on civil liability emanating from the delict is adressed. Also, a possible governmental liability of Spain is assessed, as well as the impact of the proceedings of Spanish public authorities on the progression of the accident. It concludes with the investigation of the applicable legal norms of international private law and international law of civil procedure of Spain and the appliance of these legal norms on occurred damages in Spain and France.