UCL Faculty of Laws


Inaugural Lecture: Legislation and the Stress of Environmental Problems

21 November 2019, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm


The Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume was established over fifty five years ago at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and is recognised as a major reference point for legal scholarship.

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Bentham House
UCL Laws
United Kingdom

Inaugural Lecture

Speaker: Professor Eloise Scotford (Faculty of Laws, UCL)

Chair: The Right Honourable Lord Carnwath


As lawyers and legal scholars, we know what we are doing with legislation. We read, interpret, apply it. Legislation is a known quantity – a relatively permanent, public expression of our democratic processes in parliamentary democracies and of the rule of law. That settled, ‘knowable’ character can however be misleading. This is particularly the case in the field of environmental law. In this lecture, Professor Scotford will examine why research into environmental legislation is challenging but critically important. The times we live in are providing salient examples of political stress and highly complex, and even unknowable, environmental legislation, from the recently laid  Environment Bill (in preparation for post-Brexit environmental law) to legislation that responds to our climate emergency. Collective environmental problems demand legislative responses in shaping individual behaviours and guiding social policies – but knowing how to craft these responses and how to evaluate the resulting legislation is often uncharted legal territory. Navigating this legislative terrain is a vital task for legal scholars, and highlights the importance of what we do as legal researchers and how we do it.

About the Speaker

Eloise Scotford is Professor of Environmental Law in the Faculty of Laws and Centre for Law and Environment, University College London.  She joined UCL in 2017 from The Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London, and prior to that, she held a career development post in environmental law at the University of Oxford. Professor Scotford is a leading scholar on the legal treatment of environmental principles (Environmental Principles and the Evolution of Environmental Law (Hart 2017)), air quality law, climate change governance, waste law, and legislative processes as they relate to the environment. In February 2019, she appeared before the Environmental Audit Committee to give evidence on the draft Environment Bill 2018, which was prepared in advance of the UK’s planned departure from the European Union. She is an Associate Member of Landmark Chambers, a member of the Avosetta group of EU environmental law experts, Analysis Editor the Journal of Environmental Law, and currently sits on the  UK Environmental Law Assocation’s Brexit Taskforce.

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