Environmental Law

Environmental law in action: Jifa training course

When prominent global warming scientists hail a legal decision as a ‘watershed’ for climate change action, you know that judgment must, at the very least, make for good reading. But the judges attending last week’s environmental law training offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa), took one step further – they met, listened to and discussed environmental law issues with the very author of that decision, Australian judge Brian Preston, chief judge of the New South Wales land and environment court.

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For some of the judges attending last week’s environmental law training, it was a first opportunity to meet new colleagues from other jurisdictions in the Southern African Development Community countries; others enjoyed meeting up with friends already encountered in previous training offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa).

Appeal blocks far-reaching environmental ruling

Intrigues, illegalities and pollution involved in a sugar milling operation whose poisonous effluent eventually flows in Lake Victoria have been highlighted by Kenya’s environment and land court. In a far-reaching judgment, the court gave the company 120 days to sort out licences and environmental impact assessments for all their operations – or be closed down. But the Court of Appeal has now stepped in to overturn part of the lower court’s order, with a ruling that the mill may continue to operate as before until the appeal is heard.

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Judges from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region met last week outside Cape Town for specialised judicial training in a growing field of law. The course, offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa), was an introduction to environmental law, a subject many of the judges have not often needed to deal with before.

Keen interest in Jifa's first environmental law training course

Judges from across the African continent have been attending the first specialist course offered by the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) on environmental law. The week-long course has brought together specialists in the field and already the participating judges have been asking for a further in-depth course as they have now become aware of how many of the matters they will hear could involve issues of environmental law.

Ask any environmental law specialist who they regard as the top judicial specialist on the subject, and chances are they will all name Australian, Brian Preston. He is the chief judge of the New South Wales environmental court, and someone who has written decisions that have changed the way lawyers and civil society think about environmental litigation.

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