The 'Greening' of the Global Judiciary

28 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2017

See all articles by Robert V. Percival

Robert V. Percival

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law

Date Written: February 24, 2017


Throughout history the judiciary has played a key role in the development and implementation of principles of environmental law. Courageous, far-sighted judges have intervened at critical stages in history to articulate and apply key principles of law, particularly when other branches of government ignored festering environmental problems. Judges around the world are now becoming more sophisticated in handling environmental matters and countries are establishing and expanding specialized environmental courts.

This article begins by describing the history of judicial involvement in environmental cases, starting with the common law the U.S. inherited from Britain and continuing through the rapid growth of environmental legislation in the final decades of the twentieth century. It then discusses the more recent growth of global environmental law and the role courts are playing in this development. The article reviews the growth of specialized environmental courts, how the judiciary is responding to climate change and efforts to increase the capacity of the global judiciary to handle environmental cases. The article concludes by examining the emergence of widely held principles of environmental law.

Keywords: precautionary principle, public interest litigation, judicial activism, environmental courts, hot-tubbing, environmental law, nuisance, epa, constitutional law, Rio Declaration, Stockholm Declaration, sic utere, original jurisdiction, air pollution, wetlands

Suggested Citation

Percival, Robert V., The 'Greening' of the Global Judiciary (February 24, 2017). Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, Forthcoming, U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-4, Available at SSRN:

Robert V. Percival (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

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