Environmental Judicial Review: Further change on its way

Over recent years, changes have been made to both procedural and costs rules applicable to judicial review in environmental and planning cases. The changes have been designed to address successive governments’ perceptions that the review system was being abused, with claims used as a campaigning tool or to delay legitimate development proposals, and to meet the UK’s obligations under the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental justice.

 Under Aarhus, the UK is required to ensure that the costs of bringing environmental challenges are not “prohibitively expensive”. The risk to Claimants of having to reimburse a Defendant’s costs in full, in the event of an unsuccessful challenge, had long been considered a deterrent to bringing a claim and thus a bar on accessing justice in environmental claims.Following a recent government consultation, further significant changes are now to be made to the costs regime for environmental challenges [1]. The changes have the dual purpose of strengthening compliance with the Aarhus Convention and addressing the government’s ongoing perception of abuse. We summarise some of the key practical changes here

Existing financial caps Variation of financial caps Multiple claimants or defendants

What next?

[1] Costs Protection in Environmental Claims: The government response to the consultation on proposals to revise the costs capping scheme for eligible environmental challenges - Ministry of Justice, November 2016.

[2] Case C-260/11 Edwards v Environment Agency [2013] 1 W L R 2914.

[3] R (Edwards) v Environment Agency (No 2) [2014] 1 W L R 55.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.