MCS and the UK environmental law foundation ClientEarth have lodged a complaint with the Aarhus Committee in Geneva against the UK Government concerning failure to deliver access to justice in the environment, as required under the Aarhus Convention.

The Aarhus Convention deals with the right to information and access to justice on environmental matters and applies to members from 43 countries in Europe. The complaint was heard in Geneva on Thursday 24 September 2009.

The compliance committee of the treaty must decide whether the European court was right to deny WWF access to court over the cod quota, particularly as the WWF was a member of a statutory EU body, a regional advisory committee, at the time.

Aarhus says that NGOs should have the right to go to court to challenge decisions on “specific activities” if the NGOs have played a part in the decision-making process.

A decision in MCS's favour will lead to a reform of the rules covering the costs and timing of Judicial Review, broadening access to the courts for NGOs wanting to mount legal challenges to state authority decisions affecting the environment.

A decision will be made within approximately three months.

Photograph by Ates Omer.

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