Who? Richard Buxton, 61, founder of Cambridge firm Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law.
Why is he in the news? Acted in the Supreme Court for two residents of a private house in their noise nuisance claim against the owners of a speedway and motor racing stadium 850 yards away.
Finding in the residents’ favour, Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger criticised the high level of costs incurred by both parties. He said that it was ‘highly regrettable that it can cost two citizens £400,000 in legal fees and disbursements to establish and enforce their right to live in peace in their home.’
He added that the stadium owners, ‘relatively small business operators’, would have similar legal costs of their own, and now might also have to pay £240,000 towards the residents’ costs.
Responding to the stadium owners’ argument that the level of costs infringed their article 6 right to a fair trial, Neuberger ruled that the case should be relisted for hearing before the Supreme Court. This was because, he said, if a UK court found that there had been such an article 6 infringement, litigants could claim compensation against the government.
Thoughts on the case: ‘High costs in environmental matters are a serious barrier to access to justice. In addition to legal fees, there is the expense of after-the-event insurance premiums and protective costs orders for judicial reviews, which many claimants cannot afford. It is time the UK government began enforcing European law designed to ensure affordable environmental justice for citizens.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I tried to escape the law when I realised that the conventional legal life was not for me. But then I saw how law could be used to counter environmental problems and I was here to stay.’
Career high: ‘Always seeing career highs, except it is like mountain climbing – there are always more peaks to scale.’
Career low: ‘Being beaten back by cases that drag on and for which you never get paid.’