Chinese Judges in Oxford

ClientEarth deliver training for 12 Chinese Environmental Judges in collaboration with the University of Oxford

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ClientEarth and the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment have designed and delivered a leadership development programme for 12 Environmental Judges selected by the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China.

ClientEarth has worked in China on Environmental Rule of the Law since 2016. Over the past three years, more than 1,500 judges have been trained in-person or online, through ClientEarth’s co-operation with the Supreme People’s Court.

The programme was designed to equip the judges from across China with learning and case studies on European and UK environmental adjudication practices, as well an understanding of the science and theory which underpins environmental litigation. The 12 delegates included senior judges from the Supreme People’s Court, and presidents of the Environment and Resources Tribunal of the High People’s courts of various provinces. Contributions on the programme came from leading academics in the field of China, as well as the law and the environment – with speakers including Prof. Cameron Hepburn, Prof. Myles Allen, Prof. Liz Fisher, Dr Ben Caldecott, Dr Matthew McCarten and Dr Mimi Zou. Sessions on the programme aimed to address a spread of issues relevant to China and its judiciaries, including; biodiversity, pollution and health, greening the Belt and Road Initiative, climate change related legal risk, food and sustainable diets, water resources management, sustainability and transport.

Following the programme in Oxford, the judges attended a week of meetings organised by ClientEarth with the UK Environment Agency, the UK Environmental Law Association, Latham & Watkins and 39 Essex Chambers. During the meetings, they discussed topics including: remedies for environmental pollution incidents; what procedures to seek for remedies, especially for public interest cases; the implementation of the EU Environmental Liability Directive in Member States; and the EU and the UK’s practice in water pollution prevention and river basin management.

The head of our China office, Dimitri de Boer, said: “It is our honour to work with the Supreme People’s Court and the University of Oxford on building the capacity of senior environmental judges. These judges decide on some of China’s most complex environmental court cases. The judges of the Supreme People’s Court Environmental and Resources Tribunal are also involved in the development of judicial interpretations, which are binding instructions to lower courts of China on how to apply the law.”

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Wanlin Wang