Judicial review—environmental matters
Produced in partnership with Alistair Mills of Landmark Chambers
Judicial review—environmental matters

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Alistair Mills of Landmark Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Judicial review—environmental matters
  • The different routes of challenge
  • Common grounds of challenge
  • Misinterpretation of policy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Challenges under the Habitats Directive
  • Challenges to plans or programmes under the Strategic Environmental Assessment regime
  • Common issues in environmental judicial reviews
  • Challenges based on law, not on planning merits
  • The high threshold of unreasonableness
  • More...

The different routes of challenge

There are two main different routes by which a claimant may challenge an environmental decision in the High Court: judicial review, and statutory challenges.

Whether a judicial review claim or a statutory challenge is the appropriate route will depend upon the type of decision which has been made.

If a specific statutory challenge is set out in legislation, then this will exclude recourse to judicial review. There are many similarities between the two types of challenge, both in procedure and substance.

The procedure for planning judicial reviews is set out in more detail at PN: Planning judicial review. The main characteristics of the system are that:

  1. it is front-loaded for claimants in terms of evidence and identification of grounds of challenge

  2. there is a ‘permission’ stage which claims have to pass before they proceed to a full hearing

  3. there is no general duty of disclosure but rather a duty of candour on all parties and

  4. the process is based on submissions by advocates, with live oral evidence or cross-examination very rare

According to s 31(2A)-(2B) of the Senior Courts Act 1981, whereby a court must refuse to grant relief in a judicial review claim if it appears to the court to be ‘highly likely that the outcome for the applicant would not have been substantially different if the outcome complained of had not occurred’.

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