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The annual Garner Lecture

Jack Garner

Professor Jack Garner was a leading environmental lawyer and one of the founders of the UK Environmental Law Association. He gave one of two introductory addresses (with the late Andrew Lees) at the opening conference of UKELA in September 1986. He is remembered every year at UKELA's Garner Lecture, which is one of the leading events in the Environmental Law calendar. The first Garner lecture in 1987 was given by Lord Nathan, who went on to become UKELA's first President. The Lord Nathan Memorial Fund for the Environment raises money to provide online information to the public about environmental law.

2015 Garner lecture

We were delighted to welcome James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, to give the 2015 Garner lecture. He spoke to a full house at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London on the topic of Can we Catch-Up? How the UK is falling behind on Environmental Law. We also welcomed delegates from around the UK watching via webcast from Dingwall in Scotland down to Plymouth in South West England and all places in between. You can view the lecture via the link.

View James Thornton's speech here

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2014 Garner Lecture

We were delighted to welcome Lord Chris Smith, former Chair of the Environment Agency, to give the 2014 Garner lecture. He spoke to a packed house at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London on the topic of Making the Case for the Environment. We also welcomed delegates watching via webcast in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Belgium, as well as an enthusiastic student contingent at Northumbria University. You can view or read the lecture via the links.

View Lord Smith's lecture here Read Lord Smith's lecture here (PDF Document)

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25th Anniversary Garner/Journal of Environmental Law lecture

UKELA and PEBA President, Lord Carnwath, lectured to a packed house and 8 video-linked locations on this special occasion to mark the 25th anniversary of UKELA and the JEL on the theme of "The Common Laws of the Environment, at Home and Abroad". The lecture will be published by JEL shortly and details of how Members can access this will be available soon. You can view the lecture below.

Our photo shows: L to R - Morag Ellis PEBA Chair, Richard Kimblin UKELA Chair, Lord Carnwath, Liz Fisher JEL and Professor Richard Macrory UKELA Patron and UCL. Thanks to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for hosting this keynote event in the UKELA, JEL and PEBA year.

View Lord Carnwath's lecture


2012 Garner Lecture

The 2012 lecture was given by Karl Falkenberg, Director General of DG Environment at the EC. He is pictured (centre) with UKELA chair, Mark Brumwell, and President, Lord Carnwath. We're grateful to Clifford Chance for hosting the event in London and to GroundSure for sponsoring the videolinks.

View Karl Falkenberg's lecture


2011 Garner lecture - Climate Change

The 2011 Garner lecture was given by David Kennedy, the CEO of the Committee on Climate Change. The CCC is at the forefront of applying the pressure and encouragement needed to ensure carbon targets are met. David Kennedy told over 200 delegates around the UK that we need a step change in emissions reductions and that the Climate Change Act provides the focus needed to move forward. He said the approach based on evidence and analysis should avoid a political approach and the Government had progressed key policies.

Video recording of Garner Lecture 2011


2010 Garner Lecture - The influence of European Union Law on Access to Justice in Environmental Cases”.

The 2010 Garner Lecture was given by Sir Konrad Schiemann. He is the UK judge on the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court, which is responsible for ensuring European Union law is applied consistently across all member states. He has been involved in many environmental cases. You can read the lecture below.

Garner Lecture 2010 (PDF Document)

The 2009 Lecture - Water and Law - by Professor Philippe Sands QC

Philippe Sands QC - Water and International Law 2009 Garner Lecture (PDF Document)

The relationship between science and the law in international water disputes was the focus of the annual Garner Lecture, given on December 2nd 2009 by Professor Philippe Sands QC. “Water is life and there is no aspect of life that it doesn’t influence”, he said. Eight out of ten international cases involving Professor Sands had had water as a key issue. In the context of climate change this was likely to increase.


Left to right:
Peter Kellett (UKELA Chair); Nigel Howorth (Clifford Chance); Prof Philippe Sands QC (speaker); Lord Justice Carnwath (UKELA President); Stuart Popham (Clifford Chance)

Awaiting judgement (in February 2010) on a dispute about the river Uruguay which flows between Argentina and Uruguay, Prof Sands, used that case and decided cases about the Danube and the Hull estuary to examine the role of judges, advocates and scientists in presenting and deciding on issues involving complex scientific evidence . The Uruguay case concerns disputed scientific evidence on the environmental impacts of two huge pulp mills which discharge into the river Uruguay.
In international courts there can be seventeen or more judges. Prof Sands spoke of the challenge of communicating complex scientific evidence: “There are 21 judges in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea from different cultures and backgrounds”.
He sugggested that lawyers should keep the presentation of scientific information simple and to use scientists with specific expertise. International courts tend to approach issues from an anthropocentric perspective, putting more weight upon drinking water quality than upon biodiversity protection.
After being involved in various cases involving complex scientific evidence he concluded that: “the International Court is not well placed to arbitrate between well put scientific arguments”. This was despite scientific evidence often being crucial to the outcome.
The Garner lecture 2009 was kindly sponsored by Clifford Chance. It will be published in full by UKELA and in Environmental Law and Management next spring.

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