Legislation and the Stress of Environmental Problems
Current Legal Problems (2021), cuab010, https://doi.org/10.1093/clp/cuab010
22 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2021 Last revised: 26 Oct 2021
Date Written: September 29, 2021
For lawyers and legal scholars, legislation seems a known quantity—a relatively permanent, public expression of democratic processes in parliamentary democracies and of the rule of law. This ‘knowable’ character can however be misleading, particularly in the field of environmental law. This article examines why research into environmental legislation is challenging but critically important. A short history of UK environmental law provides salient examples of political stress and highly complex, unsettled, even unknowable, environmental legislation. Collective environmental problems demand legislative responses in shaping individual behaviours and guiding social policies—but knowing how to craft these responses and how to evaluate the resulting legislation is often uncharted legal territory. Navigating that legislative terrain is a vital task for legal scholars and practitioners, particularly to investigate the serious legal problems that can arise from its construction, including poor legibility, legal fragmentation, and concerns about compatibility with the rule of law.
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