ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Access to Justice and the Paradox of Legal Mobilization by the Environmental Movement in the UK

Lisa Vanhala
University College London
Lisa Vanhala
University College London
Open Panel

Abstract

Interrogating the strategic legal activity of four key environmental NGOs in the United Kingdom this article finds that all have participated in judicial review actions over the last twenty years. It finds that each individual organization has tended to lose more cases than it has won and collectively the movement is only succeeding in about a third of legal actions brought before the courts. Despite significant losses in court and high costs awarded against them under the “loser-pays” system, groups have continued to turn to the courts in pursuit of their policy goals. This presents a puzzle: why do organizations continue to pursue legal action in the face of a relatively hostile legal opportunity structure (LOS)? Relying on a within-country comparative approach and an original dataset of legal cases taken by NGOs this article challenges current theoretical trends in explaining legal mobilization activity by highlighting this paradox. The article focuses on a) the agency organizations exhibit in engaging with the law in both proactive and reactive ways and b) how groups are able to highlight restrictive levels of access to justice through unsuccessfully supporting cases before the courts.