In another turn of events relevant to Aarhus Convention and access to information nerds, today Chief Justice Susan Denham granted an expedited listing for NAMA vs Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI).
The AIE request in the matter was sent by me in early 2010, and 44 months later the issue at hand – whether NAMA is a public authority for the purposes of the Regulations – is still not answered. We argued that such a delay was at odds with the Aarhus Convention’s requirement for a timely judicial process. For its part, counsel for NAMA Brian Murray SC made similar arguments, saying that NAMA had a significant interest in the case and the timeliness of the process was at issue. NAMA applied for an expedited listing – in a slight change of tack from previous hearings. In a submission made in the Supreme Court case earlier this year, we put it to the court that NAMA had in fact frustrated the process by taking a narrow view of the initial request (as the High Court had determined) and had acted in bad faith.
Chief Justice Denham said that the case would be heard in this term (before Christmas) if a date became available, but failing that it would be early in the new term – most likely January or February of 2014. Increasingly the Aarhus Convention is being noted in Irish court cases, and we emphasised in our submission that the Aarhus Convention was essentially being breached due to the delays in this case.
This is the submission we handed to the Chief Justice this morning outlining arguments in relation to delays relevant to Aarhus cases.