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Court rules environmental legal costs must be changed in England and Wales

RSPB, Friends of the Earth & ClientEarth v. Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 2309 (Admin)


Three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have largely succeeded in a judicial review application against the UK government over variations to the rules capping costs in environmental cases.


The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth brought the high court case against the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) after the government scrapped fixed costs caps that limited how much people and charities had to pay if they lost their case against a public body. 


The NGOs challenged the amendments saying a variation of the costs limit breached EU law.  The Court held the amendments did not breach EU law but said other UK rules on when an application to vary the cost cap had to be made would need to apply.


The NGOs also argued that the amendments failed to provide for private hearings when a claimant’s financial details could be discussed.  The Court  agreed that hearings over whether or not there should be a variation in the cost cap should be heard in private.


The Court said that the NGOs’ case was ‘successful in part’, but a further hearing would be necessary to decide ‘what relief should flow’ and what orders should be made. 


Click here for an article from ClientEarth.  Coverage from the UK Human Rights Blog can be read here.


Environment Rights & Planning Law