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Irish High Court makes a PCO in an environmental case

The Irish High Court has granted a Protective Costs Order (PCO) to a woman who is trying to stop an apparently unauthorised development of a waste facility near her home.

The case falls under the Aarhus Convention. The Convention states clearly that environmental law cases must not be ‘prohibitively expensive’. The issue of costs might be particularly difficult in the area of environmental law, where individuals or small organisations of modest means want to challenge the actions of public bodies or private developers.

In granting the PCO, the judge noted the following:

  • The legal costs were likely to be high;
  • The case involved complex areas of law;
  • The case had a reasonable prospect of success (the court applied the ECJ’s definition of this term);
  • The issues at stake were important for the applicant specifically and for the protection of the environment generally;
  • It was assumed that legal aid was not available for a case of this kind.

The Judge also took the opportunity to set down guidelines for future applications for making an application for a PCO. Please see here for further discussion on the case.

Cost Order