17 December 2019
The last of eight trainings under the "Access to justice for a greener Europe" (A2J EARL) project took place on 7 November 2019 at the Warsaw Bar Association.
The workshop on access to justice in environmental matters was opened by the Dean of the Warsaw Bar Association, Mikołaj Pietrzak. He discussed the role that lawyers play in this area, both at the local level, helping grassroots initiatives of the society, and at the European and international level, fighting for compliance with the standards of access to justice.
The first part of the workshop focused on the role of the findings of the Aarhus Compliance Committee, discussed by Małgorzata Kwiędacz-Palosz, lawyer at ClientEarth. Then Marcin Mrowicki from the Office of the Ombudsman presented the role of the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning access to justice in environmental matters. The public’s attention was drawn to the non-binding nature of the findings of the Aarhus Committee, which discourages the submission of notifications to this body.
In the second part of the meeting, legal advisor Piotr Otawski discussed Polish regulations governing access to justice in environmental matters, and Bolesław Matuszewski pointed out the main barriers preventing citizens from fighting for the environment in Polish courts. The discussion focused on the legal nature of the decision called environmental permit, and in particular the possibility of withholding the enforceability of such a decision. In this context, the amendment of the Act on Access to Information on the Environment of 19 July 2012 was analysed.
PhD Adam Ploszka concluded the workshop with a lecture on the possibility of lodging a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in connection with violation of access to justice in environmental matters. He presented the Court's jurisprudence on this issue was and stressed the necessity of indicating potential violations of articles of the European Convention on Human Rights at the level of domestic remedies.
The practicing lawyers who participated in a training agreed that the implementation of the EU environmental legislation in Poland should be improved and one of the possible means to achieve it is the application of the preliminary rulings in this field by the Polish courts.
The programme and presentations in Polish are available here.
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.