Evaluating Justice: Indigenous Communities and Environmental Litigation in Australia and New Zealand
A discernible gap between economic and legal valuation of environment has been revealed by materials brought before specialist environmental courts worldwide. While economic valuations have a significant role in quantifying environmental harms, the literature available on methods and legal tools adopted by courts to this end is scant. This vacuum also signifies a failure to capture non-monetised social valuation of environment resources that is of critical interest within the framework of environmental justice. Interesting departures from conventional decisions, such as Garrett v Williams that ordered restorative justice for aspects of environmental damage which monetary damages failed to address, signify potential for accommodating non-use values in legal discourse. The thesis will examine the claims made by a wide range of petitioners, including indigenous communities, to understand the nature of evidence and quantification of damage brought in support of their claims before operationally independent environmental courts of New Zealand and Australia. The thesis will then look at the outcome of litigations to examine the final methodology adopted, which may betray the valuation that has been most favoured. The emphasis would also be on the text of the decisions that attempt to answer deeply political and ideological questions of assessment of environment, economic or otherwise, keeping in mind the overarching principles of environmental rule of law.