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European Law

Since the European Communities Act of 1972 gave effect to the Treaty under which the UK became part of the EEC, common standards have gradually been set across Europe. This is laid down in directives, which each member state then has to put into its own statute book and see that the outcomes required are achieved in practice.

We used European law by preparing reports to enable the European Commission to take action against the UK state resulting in designation of 100+ shellfish waters, designation of thousands of miles of rivers, cleaning up the waters concerned, and, arising from an enormous dump-site for dead animals in the foot and mouth outbreak, the repeal of government exemption from planning legislation.

We have also used European law to sue or challenge UK authorities, particularly in relation to sites and species protected under the Habitats Directive.

Where there is conflict European law as laid down by the European Court of Justice prevails over domestic law. If obligations under a directive are not fulfilled all state bodies (including privatised utilities) are legally compellable to produce the outcome required by the directive.

In legal terms European law adds an extra dimension to the legal system, as does the European Convention on Human Rights, now incorporated into UK law through the Human Rights Act. We specialise in the use of Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the Convention in relation to environmental issues affecting individuals.


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