Access to environmental justice: The Supreme Court intervention
t/uploads/2011/06/supreme-court-2.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”446″ />Today (Monday 13 June) the Supreme Court in London will begin hearing a case that could impact on the issue of title and interest in Scots Law. This is an issue that Friends of the Earth Scotland has campaigned on for a number of years, not least because as an NGO we do not have title and interest to take cases to judicial review. In England and Wales this is not the case and NGOs with an interest on an issue do have standing.
Given this opportunity, Friends of the Earth Scotland applied to intervene – which means we would offer additional evidence to the court about the issue of title and interest.
We were granted permission to intervene but only had a week to prepare and then deliver hard copies to the Supreme Court.
Which made for an interesting week. These two blog entries from myself and, to follow, from our intern Bing, should give you an idea of how interesting…
The Supreme Court Intervention: A week to write, print and deliver a Very Important Document
A few weeks ago, Frances McCartney, an environmental lawyer who Friends of the Earth Scotland has been working with was made aware of an appeal case going to the supreme court which was an opportunity to challenge the current Scots law on title and interest (one of the reasons why we can’t take court cases – because we represent the vague public interest rather than a specific (and usually property) private interest). She asked if I would fund the administrative aspects of lodging
a paper with the court explaining our opinion on the wider issues of justice (rather than the specifics of the case). She would act pro bono. This is a tool frequently used in England and Wales. Rather than taking a case themselves, FoE England, Wales and Northern Ireland send in written statements to cases that reflect their interests.
Frances said it was unlikely we would be allowed to intervene as both parties to the case (insurance companies and the Scottish Government) would be likely to object.
What’s to lose, thought I and told her to go for it.
Indeed both the insurance companies and the Govt objected, but the court decided that we should be allowed to lodge a written intervention.
We were expecting to find out about this on Friday 27 May.
Unfortunately the e-mail that was sent to all the parties telling them that we were permitted to intervene, which was sent out on Friday 27 May, wasn’t sent to us.
And Frances was enjoying a bank holiday on 30 May.
So on 31 May we found out we could intervene, and they wanted the documents by Friday. By which they mean hard copies duplicated 15 times of our intervention and any new authorities we had cited, plus hard copies for all the other parties. Not electronic copies, hard copies.
Frances phoned and explained about the e-mail disaster and was given an extension of electronic copy by Monday and hard copy by Tuesday.
She worked all weekend with the pro bono QC, Simon Collins, and started collating the authorities for printing (15 times) on Monday 6 June.
I provided background info about Friends of the Earth Scotland, proof read the submission and generally stressed.
The printers didn’t return the filed documents in time for an overnight courier, so we were left with no option but to find someone to take the documents to the supreme court by hand.
That’s 15 lever arch files full to be delivered by hand.
On the off chance she might be up for a spontaneous trip to London I asked Bing, one of the FoES interns, if she fancied an adventure that canadian pharmacy no prescription started at 7.15 in the morning, the next day. Delightfully, she said yes, and that her sister was available too, which was just as well given the size and bulk of the 2 boxes full of the 15 lever arch files.
But the boxes were still in Glasgow.
So, I got on a train to Glasgow and met Frances at Queen Street where she charmed the platform guard into letting her carry one of the boxes onto the train for me.
Back in Edinburgh, I found a trolley and decided rather than taking the boxes home and back in a taxi I would leave them at left luggage, which handily opened at 7am the next morning.
I took one folder home, as I had to write out 30 stickers (one for the front and one for the spine of each folder) describing what they were. (AXA and others v Lord Advocate and others, Intervention by Friends of the Earth Scotland: Intervention and Authorities, in case you were wondering).
Unfortunately it was late and I wrote out the 30 stickers (and some spare) on the wrong side of the stickers.
So I wrote some more after I got up at 5.30am in order to collect the boxes, hand them over to Bing and her sister, and give them their train tickets and cash for a taxi from Kings Cross to the Supreme Court.
Then I wrote some more on the bus (a bus at 6.30am doesn’t stop very often though).
And Bing and her sister wrote the rest on the train and stuck them to the folders.
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