The Law Society of Ireland has backed the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) view on climate justice and the use of the courts to bring national and European actors to account.
The Aarhus Convention provides a framework to access justice in respect of environmental matters.
The Convention, which came into effect in 2001, is currently subject to a European Commission consultation.
This came about after the Aarhus Convention compliance committee found that the EU does not comply with the access to justice provisions of the Convention because of insufficient mechanisms to ensure review of EU acts.
This initiative will evaluate the current situation and assess options to address compliance to underpin possible decision-making.
View of the of CCBE
The Law Society, as an active member of the Irish delegation to the CCBE, has recently endorsed the CCBE response to the EU-wide consultation.
In its response, the CCBE sets out why the Aarhus Convention needs to be amended, and which considerations are crucial when considering compliance with the Aarhus Convention.
The CCBE response highlights:
- the inadequacy of direct access to the EU Courts (Article 263(4) TFEU) and how Article 263(4) TFEU – as currently read and applied by the Court of Justice of the EU – provides insufficient access to justice for private parties, both generally, and more specifically in environmental matters,
- the inadequacy of indirect access to the EU Courts (Article 267 TFEU),
- the reluctance of national courts to refer a question for a preliminary ruling,
- the inadequacy of the internal review process as an alternative to access to the EU courts.
The CCBE position is set out here: response to the Commission consultation on the EU implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the area of access of justice in environmental matters.