EU Aarhus Rights Trampled by High Court

Press Release

29 August 2012

A blue-coloured bowler hat with 27 stars featured in Dublin’s High Court on Tuesday. The stars symbolised EU Member States while the hat starred as Exhibit A when ten EU citizens claimed their rights to affordable access to justice under the Aarhus Convention as copper-fastened by the Treaties of the European Union.

The ten EU citizens sought, in separate independent legal actions, a NPE Order, a Not Prohibitively Expensive Order, from High Court Judge Hogan. No2GM, a company limited, also sought an identical Order and all were refused. Judge Hogan’s ruling denied Access To Justice, demanding the applicants each risk hundreds of thousands of Euros in the most expensive legal system in the EU, by insisting on putting parties on notice.

Fourteen years on since the Aarhus Convention was first signed, and 7 years since it was ratified by the EU, we EU citizens resident in Ireland are left behind in the dark ages, to take the full brunt, with neither Judicial Protection nor Sincere Co-operation, of the most expensive legal system in Europe. Interestingly, the EU Commission reportedly has ten-fold the work load for Ireland’s 1% population of the EU when it comes to Member State EU law violations.

Judge Hogan undertook to provide a written decision on Monday next. Earlier this month Judge Birmingham also refused a similar application to the High Court by Stella Coffey. The application in all of the above cases involves an EPA decision in late July approving a field trial by Teagasc of GM potatoes.

The Aarhus Convention concerns environmental matters, its third pillar addresses access to justice on environmental matters when all else fails, and includes a specific focus on ‘not prohibitively expensive’ Access to Justice. Given that Ireland has the most expensive legal system in the EU, it is no surprise that documented estimates of a legal challenge to this type of EPA decision are in the range of €400,000 for each party, in other words, simply not affordable to the average citizen.

Those EU citizens in the High Court actions on both occasions have now issued a demand to the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, the Board of Teagasc and the Director of Teagasc that no GM potatoes be planted outdoors at Oak Park until the matter of their Access to Justice Rights has been fully dealt with by the legal appeal systems.

14 August: EU citizen Stella Coffey was refused NPE Order by Judge Bermingham in the High Court.

28 August: EU citizens Thomas O’Connor, Richard Auler, Theresa Carter, Derek Banim, David Notley, Enda Kiernan, Michael Hickey, Malcolm Noonan, Gavin Lynch, Danny Forde, were refused NPE Order by Judge Hogan in the High Court. No2gm Ltd was refused a similar order.

See Open Letter to Minister for Agriculture Food & the Marine, Board of Teagasc, Director of Teagasc

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