Our international environmental law work includes cases concerning land rights, corporate responsibility, oil exploration, drilling and defending environmental campaigners.
We provide expert litigation advice and representation, covering all aspects of environmental law. Our practice team in this area is led by Joint Head of Chambers, Marc Willers QC.
We regularly work with grassroots campaigners, high-profile charities, international and domestic NGOs, environmental campaigners and aggrieved individuals.
Areas of Expertise
- Enforcing legally binding provisions under the Paris Agreement
- Nature conservation
- Preservation of land rights against state and corporate enterprises
- Habitats including marine ecology
- Air pollution
- Energy supply and exploration such as shale gas extraction or ‘fracking’
- Nuclear and toxic waste disposal
Garden Court’s commitment to the protection of the environment is long-standing. We previously worked on high-profile matters including the THORP reprocessing plant inquiry and the NIREX nuclear waste dump inquiry. Our barrister, Richard Harvey, is currently a consultant to Greenpeace International, assisting them with carrying out their environmental mission around the world.
Our casework regularly crosses over with criminal and regulatory law. For example, our barristers have considerable experience defending environmental campaigners in criminal proceedings. Garden Court is a member of the UK’s Environmental Law Foundation.
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 crowd funding.
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.
Past Notable Cases
CAN Europe intervention in the People’s Climate Case (2018)
Garden Court barristers are representing CAN (Climate Action Network) Europe on its application to the European General Court to intervene in the People’s Climate Case. This is a case in which families and youth have challenged the EU in order to protect their fundamental rights from the insufficiency of the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target. See coverage in The Independent.
Representing the Mayor of Malton in legal action against planned government changes to how fracking applications are handled (2018)
The Government issued a written ministerial statement requiring local authorities to ‘recognise’ the statutory definition of fracking set out in the Infrastructure Act 2015. Applying that definition, which relates to the volume of fluid used in the process, rather than the nature of the process itself, could lead to 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. See BBC coverage.
Work on Barbuda international airport halted by interim injunction (2018)
The injunction was granted after the case was lodged outlining concerns about environmental damage that the Barbudans who brought the case, John Mussington and Jacklyn Frank, believe the project will cause. Department of Environment documents obtained by Mussington and Frank’s legal team revealed that the authorities had been warned about ecological as well as archaeological risks. See coverage in The Guardian.
Anti-fracking campaigner pursues Supreme Court challenge in bid to overturn Government decision to approve fracking in Lancashire (2018)
Representing anti-fracking campaigner Gayzer Frackman. This is the first case in which a court has had to consider whether planning permission can be granted for shale gas exploration wells without the need to take account of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from shale gas production at the same wells. See coverage in The Guardian.
Garden Court has been engaged in six cases in the Indian High Courts to defend Greenpeace India’s right to freedom of expression. We have been successful in each case.
Oil and gas drilling licences in Norway
In Norway, we are working on a lawsuit filed 18 October 2016, challenging the government’s grant of oil and gas licenses to 13 companies planning to drill in the dangerous and ecologically fragile Arctic.
KK & ors v AML (England & Wales High Court)
Garden Court Chambers is representing 142 villagers who live near a large iron ore mine in West Africa. The claimants are seeking damages for personal injury, death and other damage allegedly caused by the actions and negligence of African Minerals Ltd, the British company that owns the mine.
Coal expansion in Turkey
The Turkish government is planning over 60 new coal fired power stations, claiming that “energy security” makes it unnecessary to conduct environmental impact assessments, as required by international environmental law. We are working on an amicus brief in support of a recent constitutional law challenge to this extreme threat to the health of people in Turkey and neighbouring states.
Legal Response Initiative
We have worked with the Legal Response Initiative to advise developing nations and charities on the UN Climate Change negotiations and the enforcement of the resulting Paris Agreement. The Legal Response Initiative provides legal support to poor and climate-vulnerable developing countries – on public international law issues encompassing environmental law, treaty law and human rights law.