Seas At Risk member, The Marine Conservation Society, has announced in a joint action with ClientEarth, that it has won a ‘David & Goliath’ legal battle against the UK Government at the United Nations (UN).

In a landmark ruling, the UN judged the UK Government to have failed in its commitments to the Aarhus Convention - an international agreement – thereby denying ordinary British citizens fair access to the courts in cases about the environment.

MCS and environmental lawyers ClientEarth confronted the UK Government at the United Nations in Geneva in September 2009 after MCS failed to hold Government regulators and the Port of Tyne Authority accountable for dumping 66,000 tonnes of highly toxic dredge material into the sea near Sunderland.

Because the Government had failed to properly implement the UN’s Aarhus Convention, MCS could not challenge this dumping operation in court without risking financial ruin. The case brought before the UN alleged this situation to be a breach of the Aarhus Convention in the UK.

The decision by UN’s Aarhus Committee should herald a fundamental change to the legal system in England and Wales. Individuals and green organisations will now be able to mount environmental court cases without fear of the financial cost, and the Government will have to introduce a clear, transparent and consistent framework to implement the Aarhus Convention, allowing rich and poor alike proper access to justice in the environment.


For the full MCS press release

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