Problem of public interest protection in environmental litigation

Eduardas Monkevičius

Abstract


The value of natural environment in social life implicates some requirements and tasks for the protection of land, natural resources and other environmental elements against any harmful impact or violation, and thus safeguards secure existence and sustainable development of our society and future generations. Clear legal regulation must apply to natural environment and its particular elements, because it is an important social value, and in order to save and improve unique features of the natural environment, which also is a home for fauna and flora.
One of the key legal environmental protection measures is protection of society’s interest or protection of public interest in the court against various violations. Adequate implementation of the public interest expresses legal balance between the society’s legal interests in particular natural resources, important forests, waters or land, and legal interests of separate individuals, who own specific property.
But protection of public interest in environmental litigation nowadays is quite problematic, because neither legal doctrine, nor laws and judicial practise do not introduce undivided meaning of public interest, its object and subjects. There is no deeper analysis of public interest conception, implementation and its protection considering Lithuanian’s international obligations in this regard. This situation weakens the possibilities and effectiveness of the protection of public interest in the court, creates conditions for violation of rights and lawful interests of citizens, and also sets ambiguity and legal uncertainty in environmental legal relationships. These reasons hinder the formation of integral legal practice, cause legal uncertainty and legal suspense, and even more – it may lead to some kind of legal nihilism.
The article introduces and explains the conception; subject of public interest, and defines individuals competent to protect public interest in judicial proceedings. The paper also reveals the actual questions of implementation of such right in the court, shows legal difficulties to find the “legal happy medium” while protecting public interest and rights of “different public interest sides” – society and a particular member of society. Finally, the article concludes with basic insights, scetching the essence of the paper’s research.

Keywords


environment law; environmental protection; public interest and private interest

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236