Access to Courts

There are representative actions in Germany and the European Union in the area of environment, consumer, and animal protection, however with very different legal frameworks and conditions.

With the Aarhus Convention and its implementation in Europe something has been achieved that seemed hardly possible before: genuine rights of action for environmental associations in Germany, so that the application of existing law can be reviewed by the courts. This means that not only a person directly affected can take legal action (e.g. because of noise pollution or violation of clean air targets) but also an association, i.e. in representation of the interests of many citizens and the environment as such. This is implemented in Germany by the Environmental Appeals Act (UmwRG), albeit still insufficiently. Political forces in Germany and the EU hold representative environmental actions responsible for long planning periods and legal proceedings. Yet, the German Environment Agency (UBA) writes on the basis of its various research projects: ”In general, the behaviour of environmental associations with respect to legal complaints leads to the conclusion that they use their scarce resources of time and money very carefully and rationally. Therefore, in principle, an appeal under the UmwRG is only lodged in the case of blatant technical and legal deficiencies”.

The legal foundations, scientific analyses and statistics for this can be found (in German) at the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues (UfU) and UBA.

Golden statue of the goddess justitia in front of an EU flag

GLI is committed to simplifying the conditions for representative actions and to reducing the procedural obstacles to the implementation of current environmental law. That this is necessary, results in the long run also from kind Article 20a Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz).
“Mindful also of its responsibility towards future generations, the state shall protect the natural foundations of life and animals by legislation and, in accordance with law and justice, by executive and judicial action, all within the framework of the constitutional order.”

A prerequisite for the effectiveness of this state goal is that the two powers of the legislature and the executive can also be reviewed by the courts.

GLI wants to develop positions on political processes relevant to standing and admissibility in Germany and the EU, present concrete proposals for the implementation of law, and offer a platform for lawyers and associations in order to make the handling of rights of action responsible.

Verbandsklagerecht | Kohleförderband

Information on the different types of climate cases, current cases and the goals environmental NGOs are pursuing through strategic litgation.