Legal brief: Aarhus committee rules on NGO costs

5th March 2015

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Jason Dassyne

The UN compliance committee for the Aarhus convention has concluded that the award of costs against Greenpeace for its failed legal bid to designate the national policy statement for nuclear power generation were "prohibitively expensive".

The UK courts had thrown out the NGO’s application in December 2011 for a judicial review, ordering it to pay costs of £11,813. The amount was later reduced to £8,000 after Greenpeace argued that the case fell within the scope of the convention, which provides access to justice in environmental matters.

The NGO, however, continued to argue that the amount was excessive and failed to comply with the convention, asking the Aarhus compliance committee to rule. In its judgment, the committee ruled that that the UK government had not complied with “article 9, paragraph 4, of the convention due to the cost order awarded against the communicant [Greenpeace], which rendered the procedure prohibitively expensive”.

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