Sustainability as Law: Perceptions and Knowledge of Sustainable Development Concepts in Supreme Courts

By Jason Lowther, Simon Payne and Joanne Sellick.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The presenters are all linked to the Centre for Sustainable Futures based at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom. This paper examines the role that the concept of sustainable development has taken in shaping the decisions of the Supreme Courts of a number of Commonwealth countries around the world. It builds upon earlier research, which identified the extent of overt statements of aspiration relating to sustainable development in international legal instruments and then considered the extent to which these were then assimilated by the higher judiciary as key stakeholders. It draws on analysis of the judgments of the courts and on a number of interviews undertaken by the authors of the paper with Supreme Court level judges since 2006. It reveals some significant insights relating to the attitude, perception and knowledge of Supreme Courts judges to sustainable development, including the marked difference of interpretation and centrality of the issue. The authors will put forward some possible hypotheses for this and some key proposals to judicial policy makers.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, Sustainability, Law, Judges, Judicial Perceptions, Education

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.305-318. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.166MB).

Jason Lowther

Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law and Social Science, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, England, UK

Jason Lowther is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Plymouth and a Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Sustainable Futures. Jason’s research interests are comprised in environmental law and regulation, with a specific focus in relation to sustainable development, civil liability and nature/habitat conservation. He holds an Editorial position with the Journal Environmental Law and Management and has published widely on issues relating to sustainable development, environmental law and the law of torts, and is currently writing a student text for Oxford University Press on Environmental Law. Jason along with his co-authors has been working on their ongoing project concerning judicial perceptions of sustainability since 2006 and have published in relation to methodology and interim findings.

Prof. Simon Payne

Professor of Law and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Science and Business, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Simon Payne is Professor of Law and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Business at the University of Plymouth. He is also a Fellow of the Centre for Sustainable Futures. His research interests lie in environmental law and sustainable development. He is well known as a commentator and writer on UK and EU environmental law, particularly that relating to the marine environment and is a member of the University’s Marine Institute, undertaking research and consultancy on comparative environmental law for international bodies. He is a regular contributor to the UK-based Solicitor’s Journal and holds editorial positions with the Journal of Water Law and the Student Law Review. Simon has co-authored and contributed to a number of books on environmental law.

Joanne Sellick

Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law and Social Science, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon, UK

Joanne Sellick is a Lecturer at the University of Plymouth in the UK and Programme Manager for the Undergraduate Law Programmes. Her research interests are in environmental law, Law of the European Union and legal pedagogy. She has published a number of texts in the fields of EU Law and Constitutional and Administrative Law and currently holds editorial positions on the Journal of Water Law and the Journal of Environmental Law and Management. Previously a Principal Lecturer responsible for Learning and Teaching at a UK University School of Law, she has worked on projects with the UK Centre for Legal Education. Joanne, along with her co-author, Jason Lowther, is currently involved in developing and delivering a range of pedagogic materials embedding sustainability into the LLB and BSc Law programmes at undergraduate level.


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