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Stuart Bell, Donald McGillivray, Ole W. Pedersen, Emma Lees, and Elen Stokes

This chapter considers the ability of individuals to seek redress to resolve environmental disputes and the role played by the courts. First, the chapter considers the reasons why some disputes end up in the courts before focusing on the main institution of judicial redress in the form of judicial review. Focus includes discussion of likelihood of success before the courts and the usefulness of judicial review in environmental cases. Specifically, the chapter focuses on the problem encountered by litigants in respect to the exorbitant costs associated with judicial review and the attempt by the Government to address this. The chapter also briefly considers the provisions for access to justice in private law as well as before the Court of Justice for the EU before considering alternative mechanisms for compliance, including the debates surrounding the need for a special environmental court.


Courts play an important role in environmental law. Among other things, they uphold the rule of law and adjudicate on the legal disputes that inevitably arise. This chapter explores the role of courts in environmental law. It outlines why courts are understood to be important in environmental law, what courts are, the different types of courts relevant to UK and EU environmental law, the importance of access to justice, and the actual and potential role of specialist environmental courts. Overall, what is apparent from this chapter is not only that the role of courts is an important one, but that it is also complex.