7th Nov 2023 | News

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Who stands for nature? Adam Riley appears in environmental judicial review challenge to airport runway construction in Barbuda.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (‘the Privy Council’) is due to hear an appeal by John Mussington and Jacklyn Frank against the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss their challenge to the development of an airport runway on the island of Barbuda, on the basis that they did not have “standing” to bring judicial review proceedings, on 8th November 2023.

This case engages a critical public law question. Who stands for nature? In cases of alleged environmental degradation, who has the right to challenge development by way of judicial review?

Lord Hope of Craighead, in the Supreme Court’s decision in Walton v Scottish Ministers [2012] UKSC 44, made clear that a person with a genuine interest in an aspect of the environment they seek to protect, who has sufficient knowledge of the relevant subject matter to qualify them to act in the public interest, may be accorded standing in an environmental case, even if the decision under challenge does not directly affect their own private rights or interests. The Privy Council will need to consider whether the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal was wrong to hold that Walton was not relevant to whether Mr Mussington and Ms Frank had standing.

Additionally, the Privy Council will need to consider whether insufficient regard was had to the applicable statutory framework, the non-disclosure of various environmental impact assessments, and whether it was right to rule on the issue of standing at an interlocutory stage.

Adam is led in the Privy Council by Marc Willers K.C., Leslie Thomas K.C., Stephen Cottle and Thalia Maragh of Garden Court Chambers’ Environmental Law and Climate Justice Team, with assistance from David Neale, researcher at Garden Court Chambers. All counsel are acting pro bono. Mr Mussington and Ms Frank’s Privy Council agent is Theo Solley of Sheridans.

The counsel team and the appellants are also supported by Global Legal Action Network.


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