The annual Garner Lecture
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.
2012 Garner Lecture
View Karl Falkenberg's lecture
2011 Garner lecture - Climate Change
Video recording of Garner Lecture 2011
2010 Garner Lecture - The influence of European Union Law on Access to Justice in Environmental Cases”.
Garner Lecture 2010 (PDF Document)
The 2009 Lecture - Water and Law - by Professor Philippe Sands QC
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.