Environmental Law Australia


Website author

This website is a free public service provided by Dr Chris McGrath, LLB (Hons), BSc, LLM, PhD, a barrister in Queensland practising in environmental law and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.


Dr Chris McGrath
Higgins Chambers
Level 29, 239 George Street
Brisbane Qld 4000 Australia
M: 0438 299 097
T: (07) 3221 2182
E: chris.mcgrath@qldbar.asn.au

This website aims to deliver the core objectives and values of my professional practice:

  • working for nature through the law, research and education;
  • assisting the court;
  • pursuing only legitimate arguments and applying the model litigant rules, whether acting for a government or private party;
  • achieving excellence;
  • being client-centered;
  • a spirit of service; and
  • humility.

The last four of these values are adopted from the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center. I thank LCAC director Richard Bourke for bringing them, especially “a spirit of service”, to my attention in an amazing talk he gave in Brisbane in July 2018. You can see his TEDx talk here.

Teaching materials for university courses

The case studies on this site provide course materials for Environmental Litigation (LAWS8187), a postgraduate law course offered by the Australian Centre for Environmental Law (ACEL) at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law in Canberra.

Other resources on this site, including the quizzes and lectures, were created for the following undergraduate and postgraduate courses I taught at The University of Queensland from 2010-2016:

Teachers and students in any other courses, at primary or secondary schools and members of the public are, of course, very welcome to use any of the materials available on this site.

Sources of documents in the case studies

The case studies available on this website are not limited to cases in which the author acted as a barrister, however, in practice it is far easier to obtain documents and explain their context if you have been involved in the litigation itself.

I acted as a barrister in the litigation the subject of the following case studies:

Documents for other case studies, such as the Tasmanian Dam Case, were obtained with the assistance of either relevant courts or litigants.

Top 5 landmark environmental legal cases in Australia

This website includes case studies of the “Top 5 landmark environmental legal cases in Australia“, listed by the Australian Geographic on 16 July 2018:

What are the case studies intended to be used for?

While most court decisions have been freely available online for over a decade, such as on Austlii, those decisions typically represent the end point of the litigation process and do not show key documents in the process.  Documents such as court pleadings show how the lawyers representing the parties framed the case. Expert reports, maps and pictures that were central to the trial process are typically not reproduced in the court judgment.

This website aims to provide those important background documents and link to the ultimate court decision for a selection of environmental cases so that students and members of the public can better understand the steps leading up to the court decision.

Google Analytics Data

Based on Google Analytics data, in the 3 years to 4 May 2018 this website had:

  • 86,784 users
  • 127,737 sessions
  • 493,488 page views

The most popular pages by far were the Tasmanian Dam Case and the Carmichael Coal Mine Case.