26 November 2019
Our coal lawyer, Sam Bright, has won the 'Rising Star' accolade at the British Legal Awards.
The judges praised ClientEarth's "measured and determined" approach to challenging behaviours and disclosures, saying Sam's work had secured "much-improved scrutiny of the coal industry in Southern and Eastern Europe".
Sam said: "Really this award is not for me, but rather for all of us working on coal at ClientEarth. I want to emphasise how great the team is, how little credit anyone of us alone can take for our coal work, and so want to congratulate everyone working in the team for helping us to win this prize!"
Sam's work includes challenging subsidies to ageing coal plants that pollute at illegal levels and threaten people’s health. These plants are a bad use of public money. Sam’s complaint led to the subsidy system being changed and flagged to the European Commission, which is now considering whether to block it.
Sam and his team also worked with Bulgarian partners to challenge an additional 340MWth of coal power at the Brikel power plant in Bulgaria. The plant was already ignoring its environmental obligations, including on air quality pollution. The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria blocked the extension, and this important decision stopped Brikel increasing its coal capacity further.
The British Legal Awards take place every year, and the 2019 ceremony was held at The Ballroom Southbank. Other nominees in Sam's category included Erika Pagano from Simmons Wavelength and Kit Hobbs at Bellerive Trust.