Interim measures in administrative proceedings: specifics of environmental cases
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Interim measures are procedural means that allow persons or States to have their rights preserved when a case is pending. Application of these measures especially in environmental cases is very important. In many of these cases (e.g. cases dealing with territorial planning, IPPC permits, environmental impact assessment, etc.) the claims deal with the protection of environment or its components (water, air, soil, etc.) as well as with the protection of public interest. Legal regulation of application of interim measures provided by Lithuanian Law on Administrative Proceedings is not optimal. That is why the first part of the article is dedicated to the analysis of the possibilities and problems of application of interim measures in the administrative proceedings in Lithuania, paying special attention to environmental cases. The second part of the article reflects the findings of a workshop of the Association of European Administrative Judges on „Interim relief in environmental matters” held in Vilnius on 22 September 2011. It briefly describes various national rules on interim relief procedures, especially in the German and the French legislation, with an assessment from the German point of view. This part of the article focuses on provisional legal protection where a permit is challenged by a third party whose rights are allegedly afflicted. In such a constellation the rights of the plaintiff compete with the rights of the operator. The article concludes that, when deciding on the necessity of interim measures, it is vital to ensure the balance of interests: both by ensuring effective access to justice and by protecting the respondent and the third party (in environmental cases - usually the operator) from the violation of their rights and the damage caused by the abuse of the right to request interim measures. In such cases short time limits for procedural steps both of the parties and the court are not advisable and a prima facie prognosis on the outcome in the main proceedings meets the interests of the parties.
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