Reconceptualising Specialist Environment Courts and Tribunals

'Reconceptualising Specialist Environment Courts and Tribunals' by Ceri Warnock has been published in Legal Studies 37 (2017) 'Early View'.  The article addresses the challenges to normative legitimacy created by SECs.


Specialist environment courts and tribunals (SECs) are, in the main, reflective of highly dynamic forms of adjudication, mixing judicial forms with powers more traditionally found in the executive. However, despite their novel legal nature the literature on SECs is predominantly promotional and it fails to address the challenges to legitimacy and governance engendered by these institutions. Nor does it evince a robust theory of environmental adjudication. These omissions not only impoverish the discourse but practice unsupported by theory is creating an unstable edifice. To illustrate this point the difficulties experienced in New Zealand are examined. The argument is made that only by confronting the challenges created by SECs can we begin to lay the foundations for a new theoretical model capable of explaining and accommodating environmental adjudication.

For access to the article see 'Early View' at