Keywords: public participation; access to justice; 'not prohibitively expensive' costs; 1998 Aarhus Convention; Constitution of the Italian Republic; Court of Justice of the European Union.
The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee recently found that Italy is not in compliance with obligations under the 1998 Aarhus Convention related to the costs of access to justice in environmental matters. Compliance issues arose from the current rules and judicial practice on filing fees, cost-shifting and legal aid applicable to suits brought by environmental associations. This work discusses these findings and explores their potential implications First, the value of these findings within the Italian legal order are discussed. Second, as the breached provisions are reflected in European Union law, the work considers whether the Union legal order may offer remedies for enforcing these findings, given that recent decisions of the Italian courts suggesting that there is a fundamental difference of views over the meaning of ‘prohibitively expensive’. Last, it considers what domestic remedies may be available and concludes reflecting on the broader implications of these findings for the right to judicial protection in Italy