Environmental Law and Climate Justice

The Garden Court Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team exists to confront the climate emergency.

To contact the Environmental Law Clerks, please email publiclawclerks@gclaw.co.uk or phone

+44 (0)20 7993 7600

 The Team aims to find ways to align the law and our legal values to hold governments and corporations to account while working in partnership with, and protecting, the natural world. We bring together leading experts from across our specialist practice areas, united by our ethos “do right, fear no one”, to secure social and environmental justice, through traditional and creative legal action, education and activism.

Garden Court brings unrivalled history and experience of using the law to achieve social justice, and has a distinguished track record in the field of environmental law. The Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team reflects our understanding of the ubiquitous impact of the climate emergency, cutting across every one of our broad range of specialist practice areas. This unique multi-disciplinary approach means that members of Garden Court are perfectly placed to provide representation and advice on climate and environmental justice, whether in the context of litigation or otherwise.   

OUR WORK

Our work includes ground-breaking climate change litigation before international tribunals, and bringing Public Law judicial review challenges against decisions taken by public bodies to hold governments to account.  We are equally well-known for defending the right to protest and the rights of environmental protestors in both criminal and civil courts. More widely, our members bring expertise in domestic and international migration policies, international crime and conflict law, commercial and business ethics, multi-party litigation and anti-discrimination of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. 

We work with individuals, groups, grassroots campaigners, high-profile charities, and NGOs acting in litigated cases and third-party interventions. We are experienced in working on cases involving alternative funding agreements and private litigation funders. 

We are committed to Pro Bono work including advising on draft climate and ecology legislation and serving on environmental NGO advisory boards. 

Many of our members have founded charities or volunteer with charities committed to the protection of nature, habitats, and vulnerable groups. 

Members of the Team also hold Professional Pro Bono Membership with the Environmental Law Foundation, a cross-disciplinary network of professional members who each year provide a significant amount of pro bono advice & assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged communities across the UK seeking environmental justice.

Publications

Members have also contributed to books and articles as well as academic teaching on climate change, environmental issues, protest rights and critical legal theory.  

FUNDING YOUR CASE

Given some of the difficulties in obtaining legal aid for these cases, we do our best to work with other funding arrangements, including ‘no win, no fee’ agreements where appropriate, fixed fees for some matters and crowdfunding.

In some cases, legal action to protect the environment is protected by the Aarhus Convention, which limits the amount a claimant would have to pay a defendant if the claim is unsuccessful. The limit is £5,000 for individual claimants and £10,000 for group claimants. The Aarhus regime also imposes a cap of £35,000 to limit the amount a successful claimant can claim from a public body.

 

Recent notable cases and news

Friends of the Earth takes legal challenge against anti-protest injunctions to European Court of Human Rights

Friends of the Earth is represented in these proceedings by Stephanie Harrison KC, Stephen Clark and Fatima Jichi of Garden Court Chambers and by Wessen Jazrawi at the law firm Hausfeld.

24 May 2024

Irena Sabic KC and Thalia Maragh conduct legal empowerment training for Ogiek community in Kenya

Our Irena Sabic KC and Thalia Maragh volunteered with International Lawyers Project (ILP) to deliver training for the Ogiek community in Kenya.

21 May 2024

European Court of Human Rights finds Swiss government violated Convention rights in a landmark climate justice ruling

Marc Willers KC and Richard Harvey, both of the Garden Court Chambers Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team, represent the Swiss Senior Women in Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland as part of an international legal team.

9 April 2024

Acland Bryant joins Garden Court Chambers as new tenant

We are delighted to announce that Acland has joined Garden Court Chambers as a new tenant.

4 April 2024

European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber to Deliver Rulings in Landmark Climate Justice Cases

Marc Willers KC and Richard Harvey represent the Swiss Senior Women in Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland. Richard Reynolds and Paul Clark represent the youth-applicants in Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and 32 Others.

28 March 2024

Privy Council holds that islanders have standing to challenge construction of runway on Barbuda

Marc Willers KC, Leslie Thomas KC, Stephen Cottle and Thalia Maragh, of Garden Court Chambers’ Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team, represent John Mussington and Jacklyn Frank pro bono, instructed by Theo Solley of Sheridans. Global Legal Action Ne

27 February 2024

Greenpeace activists acquitted in trial alongside Greta Thunberg

Owen Greenhall, of the Garden Court Protest Team, was instructed be Mike Schwarz of Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors. Raj Chada also of Hodge Jones & Allen represented the co-defendants.

2 February 2024

Climate campaigner acquitted of conspiring to shut down Heathrow Airport

Michael Goold of the Garden Court Protest Law Team acted for the client, instructed by Raj Chada of Hodge, Jones & Allen Solicitors.

5 January 2024

Garden Court barristers contribute to Legal Action Magazine's Environmental Law Update (November 2023)

Members of the Garden Court Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team have written for Legal Action Magazine.

6 November 2023

Barbuda runway challenge to be heard by the Privy Council

Marc Willers KC, Leslie Thomas KC, Stephen Cottle and Thalia Maragh, of Garden Court Chambers’ Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team, represent John Mussington and Jacklyn Frank pro bono.

2 November 2023

Garden Court secures top tier rankings in the Legal 500 UK 2024

Garden Court Chambers is proud to be recognised as a Top Tier set again in the Legal 500 UK 2024 rankings.

4 October 2023

Climate Case to be heard at European Court of Human Rights against 32 European States brought by 6 Portuguese youth

Richard Reynolds and Paul Clark are representing the youth-applicants, led by Alison Macdonald KC of Essex Court Chambers. Counsel are instructed by Global Legal Action Network.

26 September 2023

High Court rules on legal challenge to Government's Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan

Marc Willers KC of the Garden Court Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team acted for the claimants Marine Conservation Society (MSC), Richard Haward's Oysters, and Hugo Tagholm, alongside Peter Lockley of 11KBW.

15 September 2023

Marc Willers KC, Tim Baldwin and Paul Clark contribute to Legal Action Magazine Environmental Law: Update (Jul/Aug 23)

Marc Willers KC, Tim Baldwin and Paul Clark of the Garden Court Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team have written for Legal Action Magazine.

1 August 2023

New edition of Halsbury's Laws on Judicial Review

Ollie Persey of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team is the Consultant Editor of the latest edition of the highly regarded public law practitioner text, Halsbury’s Laws on Judicial Review, published this month.

21 July 2023

Marc Willers KC in Supreme Court for legal challenge to climate impact of new Surrey oil wells

Marc Willers KC of the Garden Court Chambers Environmental Law & Climate Justice Team, alongside Estelle Dehon KC and Ruchi Parekh, both of Cornerstone Chambers, are instructed by Rowan Smith of Leigh Day.

20 June 2023

Irena Sabic KC appointed Deputy King’s Bench Master

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that our colleague Irena Sabic KC has been appointed by the Lord Chief Justice as a Deputy King’s Bench Master, based at the Royal Courts of Justice.

11 May 2023

Marc Willers KC represents Swiss Senior Climate Women at the European Court of Human Rights

Marc Willers KC of Garden Court Chambers represented the Swiss Senior Women as part of an international legal team.

5 April 2023

Duran Seddon, Edward Grieves & Irena Sabic of Garden Court Chambers & Associate Tenant Anna Morris appointed King’s Counsel today

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that Duran Seddon, Edward Grieves and Irena Sabic of Garden Court Chambers, and Associate Tenant Anna Morris, have been formally appointed King’s Counsel today.

27 March 2023

Duran Seddon, Edward Grieves, Irena Sabic and Anna Morris to be appointed King’s Counsel

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that Duran Seddon, Edward Grieves, Irena Sabic and Anna Morris will be appointed King’s Counsel in 2023.

23 December 2022

Paul Clark co-authors chapter in 'Litigating the Climate Emergency How Human Rights, Courts, and Legal Mobilization Can Bolster Climate Action'

14 November 2022

Supreme Court to hear legal challenge to new Surrey oil wells

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers leading Estelle Dehon QC of Cornerstone Barristers acting for campaigner Sarah Finch, instructed by Rowan Smith of Leigh Day.

15 August 2022

Appeal Court judges divided over unlawfulness of decision to allow new Surrey oil wells

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers leading Estelle Dehon QC of Cornerstone Barristers acting for campaigner Sarah Finch, instructed by Rowan Smith of Leigh Day.

18 February 2022

Grace Brown wins BSN Lawyer of the Year at UK Diversity Legal Awards 2021

We are delighted to announce Grace Brown is the BSN Lawyer of the Year, in the Chambers category, at the UK Diversity Legal Awards 2021

2 December 2021

Court of Appeal hearing for climate campaigner battling development of Surrey oil wells

Sarah Finch, a climate campaigner fighting to prevent the drilling of new oil wells at Horse Hill in Surrey, has a hearing at the Court of Appeal. Sarah is represented by Marc Willers QC of the Garden Court Chambers Environmental Law Team.

15 November 2021

Garden Court secures number one rankings in Chambers UK Bar Guide 2022

21 October 2021

Campaign to stop oil drilling in Surrey will go to Court of Appeal

Sarah Finch is represented by Marc Willers QC of the Garden Court Chambers Environmental Law Team and Estelle Dehon of Cornerstone Chambers.

24 March 2021

Coordinated effort by 33 countries to overturn ‘urgent’ status of youth climate change case rejected by Strasbourg Court

Our Marc Willers QC, Irena Sabic, Richard Reynolds, Paul Clark and Ella Gunn of Garden Court Chambers represent the youth-applicants

26 February 2021

European Court of Human Rights is fast-tracking a climate case against 33 European States brought by 6 Portuguese youth

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) instructing Marc Willers QC, Irena Sabic, Richard Reynolds, Paul Clark and Ella Gunn of Garden Court Chambers.

30 November 2020

Net Zero and downstream emissions in court this week

The Claimant is represented by Marc Willers QC, of the Garden Court Environmental Law Team, leading Estelle Dehon of Cornerstone Chambers, instructed by Leigh Day.

16 November 2020

Portuguese young people file ground-breaking climate case with European Court of Human Rights against 33 countries

Global Legal Action Network instructing Marc Willers QC, Irena Sabic, Richard Reynolds, Paul Clark and Ella Gunn of Garden Court Chambers.

3 September 2020

Garden Court Chambers welcomes Paul Powlesland as a new tenant

4 August 2020

Notable Cases

 

Aghaji and Garforth v Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy  (CO/1097/2022) 
Successful judicial review challenge of the government’s Net Zero Strategy. The government conceded that the NZS was unlawful in circumstances where it had failed to comply with sections 13 and 14 of the Climate Change Act 2008. 

Finch v Surrey County Council and Horse Hill Developments Ltd (with Friends of the Earth Ltd intervening) (2022) PTSR 958 
Appeal against the decision of Holgate J to refuse the claimant’s judicial review challenge of SCC’s decision to grant planning permission for oil production at the Horse Hill site for 25 years. The main issue in the appeal concerned the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) and focused on the requirement to include within the EIA an assessment of the significant indirect effects of the development on the climate and an assessment of those GHG emissions (known as “scope 3 emissions”). Press Coverage: The Independent, Financial Times.

Thornton v Oil and Gas Authority and Third Energy UK Gas Limited (2020) EWHC 2615 (Admin)  
Judicial review challenge of the decision of the Oil and Gas Authority to approve the sale by Barclays of Third Energy (a fracking company) to York Energy (a newly incorporated affiliate of a Caymans company (Alpha Energy) with no history of operating in the UK) given the risk that the purchasing company might not pay for the decommissioning costs associated with the operation.  

Frackman v SSCLG and Cuadrilla [2018] EWCA Civ 9 
Challenge to the decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to grant Cuadrilla planning permission for fracking operations at a site in Lancashire.

Andrews v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (2018) 
Challenge brought by the Mayor of Malton against the government’s decision to issue a written ministerial statement (WMS) requiring local authorities to ‘recognise’ the statutory definition of fracking set out in the Infrastructure Act 2015. This challenge aimed to prevent fracking operations (which use slightly less fluid than the statutory threshold) being granted planning permission in areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks, such as the North York Moors.

MCS, Richard Haward Oysters v SSEFRA 
Judicial review challenge to the government’s Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan on grounds that it fails to accord with statutory obligations, human rights and the public trust doctrine. Press Coverage: The Guardian, BBC NewsFinancial Times, iNews.

Kenyon v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government (2020) EWCA Civ 302 
Represented a local resident who unsuccessfully challenged a decision by the Secretary of State that no environmental impact assessment was required for the proposal that 150 homes be built on a site in Hemsworth, in circumstances where the development would lead to an increase in traffic and nitrogen dioxide levels in the town centre, which had been designated as an Air Quality Management Area. 

Hudson v Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and Legoland (2019) EWHC 3505 (Admin)
Judicial Review challenge on behalf of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, to the decision of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to grant Legoland planning permission for the construction of a holiday village and other works at its Legoland Windsor site. The claimant complained about the impact of the development on veteran trees within the site and the inadequacy of the proposed buffer zone between the site and the adjacent Windsor Forest and Great Park Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation, and the council’s failure to undertake an appropriate assessment. Court of Appeal upheld Lang J’s decision, although it concluded that the protective buffer zone between the site and the adjacent Windsor Forest and Great Park Site was wider than Lang J had assumed. 

M4 Corridor (Relief Road) Around Newport Inquiry
Irena Sabic KC and Grace Brown were instructed in Inquiry through the Environmental Law Foundation by several organisations including the Wildlife Trust, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales. This concerned a scheme with an estimated cost of £1 billion; see here, which resulted in the plans of the Welsh Government to build the road being rejected. 

Carolyn Brown v London Borough of Ealing and Queen's Park Rangers [2018] EWCA Civ 556  
Challenge to Council's decision to grant Queen's Park Rangers planning permission to redevelop the 61-acre Warren Farm site in the Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) for mixed-use as a training facility for the football team and community open space/sports facilities. The appeal concerned the meaning of the term "very special circumstances" but also had a very important environmental angle, namely the application of the London Plan's policies on the development of protected open spaces within the MOL.

LGT FFT and DGLG v Wolverhampton CC (FoE and Liberty intervening) 
The Supreme Court has granted Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) and Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG) permission to appeal the use of these wide-ranging ‘anti-Traveller’ injunctions taken out by Wolverhampton City Council and numerous other councils. Marc Willers KC is leading Tessa Buchanan and Owen Greenhall, and Stephanie Harrison KC is leading Stephen Simblet KC and Fatima Jichi.

Contact team

The Team

Stephanie Harrison KC

Year of Call: 1991

Year of Silk: 2013

Marc Willers KC

Year of Call: 1987

Year of Silk: 2014

Leslie Thomas KC

Year of Call: 1988

Year of Silk: 2014

Amanda Weston KC

Year of Call: 1995

Year of Silk: 2018

Stephen Simblet KC

Year of Call: 1991

Year of Silk: 2020

Irena Sabic KC

Year of Call: 2002

Year of Silk: 2023

Greg Ó Ceallaigh KC

Year of Call: 2006

Year of Silk: 2024

Richard Harvey

Year of Call: 1971

Stephen Cottle

Year of Call: 1984

Valerie Easty

Year of Call: 1992

Abigail Holt

Year of Call: 1993

Grace Brown

Year of Call: 1995

Gordon Lee

Year of Call: 1998

Courtenay Barklem

Year of Call: 2016

Tim Baldwin

Year of Call: 2001

Tom Wainwright

Year of Call: 2003

Jodie Blackstock

Year of Call: 2003

Mark Symes

Year of Call: 2004

Alex Grigg

Year of Call: 2007

Kirsten Heaven

Year of Call: 2007

Richard Reynolds

Year of Call: 2007

Shahida Begum

Year of Call: 2008

Gemma Loughran

Year of Call: 2008

David Renton

Year of Call: 2008

Raza Halim

Year of Call: 2009

Paul Powlesland

Year of Call: 2009

Paul Clark

Year of Call: 2010

Owen Greenhall

Year of Call: 2010

Maria Moodie

Year of Call: 2011

Tessa Buchanan

Year of Call: 2012

Una Morris

Year of Call: 2012

Stephen Clark

Year of Call: 2013

Natasha Shotunde

Year of Call: 2013

Audrey Cherryl Mogan

Year of Call: 2014

Ubah Dirie

Year of Call: 2014

Matthew Ahluwalia

Year of Call: 2015

Ollie Persey

Year of Call: 2017

Ella Gunn

Year of Call: 2018

Nadia O'Mara

Year of Call: 2018

Navida Quadi

Year of Call: 2018

Eva Doerr

Year of Call: 2019

Acland Bryant

Year of Call: 2019

Associate Members

Adrienne Copithorne

Year of Call: 2018

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