Who? Alan Andrews, 34, in-house solicitor at not-for-profit environmental law group ClientEarth.
Why is he in the news? He won a ruling at Europe’s top court, allowing ClientEarth to take the UK government to the Supreme Court for breaches of EU air quality.
The UK had missed a 2010 deadline to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide in compliance with the European Air Quality Directive. Instead, it had requested a postponement to 2015 for just over half of its polluted zones, and said it would achieve the required reduction in the remaining zones between 2015 and 2025.
Following ClientEarth’s application to it, the UK Supreme Court asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to rule on whether states had to apply for a postponement, or could simply say they would comply by a certain date.
The CJEU ruled that states may apply for a five-year extension if they first draw up an ‘air quality plan’ to show how they will comply before the new deadline.
The case now returns to the Supreme Court next year. The court is expected to order the UK government to meet limits much faster.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This case, the first time that the CJEU has ruled on the 2008 ambient air directive, sets a groundbreaking legal precedent. The judgment confirms that as an EU citizen breathing air that fails to comply with the legal maximum limit for pollutants, you have the right to go before your national court and demand that action is taken to protect your health.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘So that I can use my legal skills to further the environmental causes that I have long cared passionately about.’
Career high: ‘This case. It has been a long and hard road, with lots of setbacks on the way, but was all worth it following the judgments first of the Supreme Court and now of the CJEU.’
Career low: ‘This case also – when last year the Court of Appeal heard and dismissed our appeal inside two hours.’