Book

Science and judicial reasoning: the legitimacy of international environmental adjudication (2021)

in: Cambridge studies on environment, energy and natural resources governance

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Abstract

Science, which inevitably underlies environmental disputes, poses significant challenges for the scientifically untrained judges who decide such cases. In addition to disrupting ordinary fact-finding and causal inquiry, science can impact the framing of disputes and the standard of review. Judges must therefore adopt various tools to adjust the level of science allowed to enter their deliberations, which may fundamentally impact the legitimacy of their reasoning. While neglecting or replacing scientific authority can erode the convincing nature of judicial reasoning, the same authority, when treated properly, may lend persuasive force to adjudicatory findings, and buttress the legitimacy of judgments. In this work, Katalin Sulyok surveys the environmental case law of seven major jurisdictions and analyzes framing techniques, evidentiary procedures, causal inquiries and standards of review, offering valuable insight into how judges justify their choices between rival scientific claims in a convincing and legitimate manner.