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ClientEarth Communications

6th April 2018


Means to improve access to justice in environmental cases discussed during workshop in Poland

On 21 March 2018, ClientEarth together with the Polish Ombudsman held a national workshop in Warsaw on access to justice in environmental matters.

The workshop was an opportunity to exchange views, experiences and opinions on the functioning of access to justice in environmental cases in Poland. Participants were also introduced to the ATOJ EARL project and the significant role it could play over the next 2 years by raising the awareness of and training the major stakeholders.

The main findings of the meeting highlighted the strong need for improvement in the field of access to justice in environmental cases.

During the discussion, several obstacles and difficulties that hinder access to justice in Poland were identified. Major problems concern deficiencies in the use of EU case law, strong hesitance in requesting preliminary rulings from the CJEU, limited legal standing for individuals and NGOs in environmental cases, lack of information on initiated environmental procedures, among others.

Invited experts and practitioners in the field of environmental law all underlined the importance of access to justice, its strong relation with human rights and recalled its objective - protecting the right of every person of present and future generations to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and ensure the well-being of humans and the environmental.

The workshop is a standard component of the ATOJ EARL project in each participating country. The workshop is the opportunity for presenting the basic features of the project to the respective stakeholders (judges, public authorities, lawyers and NGOs) gather information about the needs and expectations of the interested public and create a forum for discussion and collaboration.

In Poland, there will be eight training sessions, prospectively for public administration, judges, law practitioners and NGOs between the end of 2018 and the middle of 2020.

The meeting was funded by the LIFE Programme of the EU Commission as part of the ATOJ EARL project.

The project

Access to Justice is a fundamental means through which citizens and NGOs can support the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to protect the environment. The goal of this ATOJ-EARL project is to achieve “Access to Justice for a Greener Europe”. It strives to enhance access to justice in environmental matters by providing information, training and support for the judiciary, public authorities and lawyers of eight European member states. ClientEarth and Justice and Environment are implementing this project with the financial support of the European Commission’s LIFE instrument.