Apart from breaches specific to the first two pillars of the Convention (access to information and participation in the decision-making process), going to court can be justified in many other cases concerning environmental legislation in general.
When is it possible?
- A local, regional or federal authority makes an administrative decision which, according to the plaintiff, infringes environmental law: this decision may be challenged before the Council of State;
- A river is polluted by a company or a private individual: those responsible are taken to court.
Who can take action?
In the case of an appeal to the Council of State, the appeal (to repeal or suspend a decision) can only be made if an interest can be justified (this notion is defined in Article 19 of the coordinated laws on the Council of State).
To take legal action in a court of law (according to the normal meaning of the term), a person must prove his/her interest in taking this action (according to the terms in Article 17 of the Judicial Code). It should be noted that an environmental protection group can use a specific law to apply to the President of the Court of first instance for suspension of an act that is harmful to the environment or that risks harming it (see the law of 12/01/1993).
Where should you enquire?