Arguments for Access to Justice : Supra-individual Environmental Claims Before Administrative Courts
Abstract: In the early 19th century, in the wake of industrialisation, complaints from people affected by pollution were considered a threat to industrial expansion and economic growth. Today, the right of access to justice is increasingly considered a legal vehicle for enhancing environmental protection. Under the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), individuals and NGOs are expected to contribute to the enforcement of environmental law and the protection of the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to their health and well-being by bringing public interest actions before court. Specific arguments for access to justice have been put forth in the context of environmental law: Environmental problems affect many persons, are technically complex, and can be solved only through the cooperation of all.The right of access to justice in environmental matters challenges ideas reflected in domestic administrative procedural law and particularly, the idea that a claimant must be affected by the contested decision in an individual, personal or direct way in order to have legal standing to bring claims. In contrast, in the EU, wide access to national courts fits well with the objective of decentralising enforcement and allowing the Court of Justice to centrally interpret Union law.In this doctoral dissertation, I examine tensions between different rationalisations of the right to bring claims before an administrative court through a comparative assessment of two selected aspects of access to justice: The law governing legal standing before administrative courts and the scope of administrative judicial review. Through comparison of EU, German and French law, I first analyse the development of the law governing legal standing and scope of review in the time period after the entry into force of the Aarhus Convention. Second, I identify factors that steer the development of administrative procedural law in relation to access to justice today. Third, I draw conclusions with respect to the broader implications of recent and potential future developments of the law on legal standing and scope of administrative judicial review in environmental matters.
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