Aarhus Convention and Environmental Justice

The Aarhus Convention is an international treaty which was the original source material for EIA, SEA, the Environmental Information Regulations and other domestic legal regimes.


Members of Chambers are at the cutting edge of its development both domestically and internationally.

Internationally, Members of Chambers have been instructed to appear before the UN’s Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee in Geneva in response to complaints made against the United Kingdom. Members have appeared in the vast majority of oral hearings held by the Committee in cases concerning the UK. Recent work includes Communications C/2022/196 (Concerning the UK’s approach to negotiating Free Trade Agreements; C/2017/156 (Concerning whether the scope of Wednesbury review complies with the UK’s international obligations); and C/2017/150 (Concerning the steps taken by the UK to consult in advance of primary legislation). Members have also appeared in C/2016/142, C/2015/131, C/2014/100, C/2013/90, ACCC/C/2013/86, ACCC/C/2013/85, ACCC/C/2012/77, ACC/C/2010/53, C/2010/60, and C/2010/45.

Domestically, members have appeared in a number of the key cases on EIA, SEA, Environmental Information (please see out other pages for details). Members have also appeared in the majority of of the leading cases on the Aarhus costs capping regime in public law proceedings, including R (Friends of the Earth Ltd) v SST [2021] EWCA Civ 13, CPRE Kent v SSCLG [2021] UKSC 36, R (Bertoncini) v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC [2020] 6 WLUK 174, R (HS2 Action Alliance Ltd) v SST [2015] EWCA Civ 203, C-530/11 European Commission v United Kingdom [2014] QB 988 Venn v SSCLG [2014] EWCA Civ 1539.

Given Chambers' expertise members are regularly instructed to advise on the application of the Aarhus Convention and principles derived from them in domestic and EU law, as well as issues of interpretation involving public international law principles. Our experience of the conventions which have informed EU environmental legislation is of particular relevance in the context of Brexit, since whilst the UK’s obligations under EU law will fall away, its obligations under those conventions (e.g. Bonn, Bern and Aarhus) will remain.

Members also contribute to leading texts on Aarhus-derived regimes. Read our regular Aarhus blog to keep up to date on this important topic.

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