When an individual or group stands up for the environment in a court of law, costs are capped under the Aarhus convention, meaning that you know what you are getting into and won’t face ruin if you lose. The UK government tried to amend that and remove the cost cap – Friends of the Earth, RSPB and Client Earth challenged that and won, well partially:
Where they won was on hearings over whether or not there should be a variation in the cost cap should be heard in private, in order to protect confidential information relating to financial matters i.e. it stop the other side finding out what kind of fighting fund you have and dragging the issue through court indefinitely to try a cripple you financially.
On the cost cap element – in future, the courts will have to take account of a claimant’s costs to determine whether proceedings are “prohibitively expensive” in order to guide decisions over cost cap variations.
This is good news for small community groups that may end up taking the UK Government to Judicial Review over awarding of oil transfer licences in environmentally sensitive areas in the north of Scotland.