C-115/09 Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland, Landesverband Nordrhein-Westfalen eVvBezirksregierung Arnsberg Trianel Kohlekraftwerk Lünen (intervening) – read judgment
The German system of judicial review involves a “careful and detailed” scrutiny of administrative decisions. However, admissibility criteria are such that few are able to access this system, particularly groups bringing actions alleging environmental harm.
At the centre of this case is the highly topical matter, relevant to one of the discussion threads on this site, of the trend towards a new system of environmental justice, heralded by Aarhus and the accompanying EU Directives, where national courts to are required to recognise claims brought by pressure groups alleging infringement of environmental provisions, even where there is no individual legal interest involved. The Trianel case puts into sharp focus the debate as to whether the environment should be protected not as an expression of an individual’s interest, but as a general public interest, enforceable in the courts. Continue reading →
This has been an interesting week for the continuing “debate” over the future of the European Court of Human Rights. Stay tuned for an explanation of the quotation marks.
First, Dominic Raab MP has released a pamphlet with the think-tank CIVITAS entitled Strasbourg in the Dock. Raab, a former lawyer, has been a vocal opponent of the European Court of Human Right as well as the Human Rights Act. The pamphlet can be read here and the press release and summary can be found here. He finds some of the European judges are “woefully lacking in experience” and, as a consequence, “are undermining the credibility and value of the Court“.
Today MPs will vote on whether to increase the maximum amount universities can charge to £9,000. Contrary to many commentators’ predictions, the student protests against the increase on 10 November have not been an isolated occurrence, but the beginning of a settled campaign. But would the students be able to rely on human rights arguments to resist eviction?
The campaign has been quite literally settled in many cases, as students at (amongst other universities) UCL, SOAS, Oxford, Sheffield, Manchester Met and Newcastle have staged occupations and sit-ins. Some have moved out, but others have occupied lecture theatres since around 24 November and don’t seem to be moving anywhere any time soon. That is, unless the police or university authorities force them out.
The right to protest is covered by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that:
This time two years ago two obscure environmental groups, Clientearth and the Marine Conservation Society , took a step that may make more difference to the enforcement of environmental rights in this country than all the recent high-profile “green” NGO campaigns put together.
They submitted a complaint – euphemistically called a “communication” – to the enforcement body of the Aarhus Convention, a treaty which lays down baseline rules for proper environmental justice in the EU, alerting it to various shortcomings in the legal system of England and Wales (inelegantly but conveniently referred to in the report as E & W). Continue reading →
Welcome back to the human rights roundup, a regular bulletin of all the law we haven’t quite managed to feature in full blog posts. The full list of links, updated each day, can be found here.
by Graeme Hall
In the news:
Continuing with their assessment of the UK’s law and legal system, the Law and Lawyers’ blog has produced the latest in its series, No. 4: Juries. This comes at an opportune moment given the recent jailing of a juror for contempt of court after using Facebook to contact an acquitted defendant. This case has seen a possible dichotomy of opinion arise: passionate supporters of trial by jury, such as barrister Felicity Gerry and Tory politician David Davis; or that of Joshua Rozenberg who poses the thorny question; “Whom would you prefer to be judged by – a highly trained, publicly accountable circuit judge? Or 12 people like [jailed juror] Joanne Fraill?”.
UKHRB editor Adam Wagner asked Twitter for suggestions of human rights kids for books… and Twitter responded! Here are some of those responses, compiled by Thomas Horton.
‘Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we’re paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.’ (Harper Lee, Nelle ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Ch. 24)
Whether Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (as recommended by @Kirsty_Brimelow) will impact a child so much that they want to become a human rights lawyer is not a given. Yet there are plenty of classic novels and human rights-centered literature aimed at a younger audience which give children the opportunity to learn human rights principles. The legal twittersphere responded in their droves to suggestions of such literature, and below are just a selection of what is available:
Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly bulletin of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.
In the news
This week we have further developments in freedom of information (both in terms of the right to free speech and the right to receive information under Article 10 of the Convention) and on the reform of courts, both at home and in Strasbourg. Also making news this week: the new Terrorist Prevention and Investigation Measures and flooding in Vladivostock.
Freedom of speech and freedom of information
This week, judgment was given in the case of Cairns v. Modi, in which Chris Cairns, former New Zealand cricketer, successfully won £90,000 in damages from Modi, the former Chairman of the Indian Premier League, who published a defamatory statement about Cairns on Twitter. Inforrm’s blog provides a case summary with a bit more detail, for those interested. Rosalind English commented on this case, and on libel cases in the context of instantaneous Internet publishing more generally, for the UK Human Rights blog on Wednesday, in which she likens the current judicial attitude to rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. Continue reading →
The Mayor of London v. Brian Haw & others  EWHC 585 (QB) – read judgment.
The High Court has ruled that it would not be a breach of Articles 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of assembly and association) to grant a possession order in respect of Parliament Square Gardens (“PSG”) and an injunction compelling protesters to dismantle and remove all tents and other structures erected on PSG. The potential effect of this might be to remove Brian Haw, the peace campaigner who has been protesting almost non-stop outside Parliament for the best part of a decade.
This is the latest in a long-running series of cases exploring the extent of the freedom to protest. We have analysed the previous court decisions about the Parliament Square protesters here and here. The issue of restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression has been a hot topic in recent months more generally, having also come up recently in the contexts of the student protests last year, political asylum seekers and hate speech.
This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.