Ecopravo-Lviv versus state-run water supplying company “Brodyvodocanal”
Region: Ukraine, Lviv oblast
Essence of case: Protection of the right of public organization to environmental information
Parties: Ecopravo-Lviv – plaintiff, Brodyvodocanal – defendant
Essence of problem: Court proceeding on the refusal to provide the environmental organization
On November 9, 2001, the Lviv Oblast Commercial Court heard a case in which Ecopravo-Lviv sued Brodyvodokanal, a state-run water supplying company, for refusing to provide environmental information. In the case, Ecopravo-Lviv stressed the right to request and receive such information without any obligation to provide a justification for the request. Ecopravo-Lviv requested information from Brodyvodokanal regarding the condition of the sanitary zone of a water intake facility and the list of the measures needed to ensure the quality of water being supplied, and the condition of water supply sources.
An interesting aspect of the case was that the submissions of both Ecopravo-Lviv and Brodyvodokanal referred to the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention). The defendant relied upon Article 4 of the Aarhus Convention, which states that a request for environmental information may be refused if such request is manifestly unreasonable or formulated in too general manner.
In addition to references to the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law on Environmental Protection of Ukraine, the Law on Information, the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Concerning Types of Information That Is Not Classified Commercial Information, Ecopravo-Lviv relied upon Article 2 of the Aarhus Convention. Article 2 of the Convention states that non-governmental organizations promoting environmental protection and meeting any requirements under national law are deemed to have an interest and can receive information. In addition, Ecopravo-Lviv relied upon Article 11 (6) of the Water Code of Ukraine, which provides the public with the right to receive information on the condition of water, pollutants, water usage, plans and measures related to water protection and usage, and the renewal of water resources, was cited to.
The court dismissed the defendant’s statements and obliged Brodyvodokanal to provide the information and reimburse the court fee. In this suit the court’s ruling was an important step on the pass of further realization of the right of non-governmental organizations to environmental information.