David A.O. Edward, a member of the Court of Justice of the European Union from 1992-2004, visited Denver Law recently and spoke to students about the European Union in general and EU environmental law and policy specifically.
Judge Edward, from Edinburgh, Scotland, was also a member of the EU Court of First Instance (now called the General Court) from 1998-1992.
Judge Edward, who has been called one of the most influential Court of Justice judges in the history of the European Union, said that there two difficult issues when it came to deciding environmental-related issues.
First, he noted that in many instances the legislation that underlies a legal challenge is not entirely clear. The legislative branch "leaves it to the Court to resolve (ambiguities). Consequently, in some instances the ambiguity is deliberate on the legislature's part." This means that the Court is put in the position of clarifying what the legislation means.
Second, enforcing EU environmental law can be a problem in some instances. Typically enforcement is left to the 27 individual member states of the EU. However, where a member does not enforce legislation then the European Commission can bring action before the Court of Justice and seek an order of enforcement and a fine. Judge Edward noted that while he was a member of the Court, just such an action was brought against Greece and the Court imposed a fine against the country.
Judge Edward was also the guest of honor at a reception attended by students and faculty.
Don C. Smith, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Program said that the College of Law was honored to host Judge Edward. "By many measures, the European Union has assumed a leading environmental role in the past decade. Having a former judge of the stature of Judge Edward speak to our students represented a great learning experience for all of us." Mr. Smith said that having visitors such as Judge Edward reflects Denver Law's commitment to exposing students to key environmental law figures from around the world.
Editor's note: The top picture includes students Ambika Chawla (on left) and Maha Kamal (on right); Judge Edward, to the left of Ms. Chawla, is next to Professor and Director of the International Law Program Ved Nanda. In the middle picture Don Smith is between Judge Edward and Professor Nanda. In the bottom picture, students (from left to right) Lauren Anderson, Eric Cheong, and Ms. Kamel are with Judge Edward.