The Poor Have No Lawyers: Scotland's Non-Compliance with the Access to Environmental Justice ‘Pillar’ of the Aarhus Convention
(2014) 4 King's Inns Student Law Review 105-132
28 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2015 Last revised: 18 Mar 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Legal rights without any means of vindication are easily neglected; access to justice is a fundamental requirement of a legal system which guarantees rights. In terms of environmental law, the Aarhus Convention seeks to establish ‘access to environmental justice’ for citizens as a means of improving the general enforcement of environmental law, and ensuring the realisation of rights to environmental information and participation in environmental decision-making.
This article examines whether Scotland complies with two particularly challenging requirements of the Aarhus Convention: that members of the public have standing to access procedures allowing them to challenge acts or omissions which contravene national environmental laws; and that such procedures are not ‘prohibitively expensive’.
It finds that Scotland complies with the standing requirement thanks to recent common law developments, but that the costs of environmental litigation in Scotland are prohibitively expensive. The article offers remedial suggestions for Aarhus-compliance, and suggests a range of further methods which could be used to take an exemplary approach to access to environmental justice in Scotland.
Keywords: Access to justice, Aarhus Convention, Environmental Law, Scotland, Litigation costs, Standing, Access to Environmental Justice
JEL Classification: K32, K33, K41, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation