Falkland Islands Government Aquaculture decision to face full judicial review
The decision of Executive Council made on March 29, 2022, to not allow large-scale aquaculture in the Falklands is to undergo a judicial review following a judgement by Chief Justice James Lewis after a preliminary hearing in the Supreme Court on July 28, with the judgement delivered on August 3.
The review comes following a decision made by Executive Council (ExCo) on March 29, 2022, to not go forward with large-scale aquaculture in the Falkland Islands. A number of resolutions were made by ExCo in this meeting, including that they were “not minded to agree to any large-scale fish farming” and “not minded to approve any fish farming that involves the introduction of further new species.”
This decision was contested by Unity Marine Limited – the company with an interest in establishing a large scale aquaculture operation in the Islands.
The Supreme Court upheld Unity Marine’s leave to move for Judicial review as the grounds for the review were deemed to be arguable, and the application was said to not be out of time – as was argued by the lawyer for the Falkland Islands Government.
Jonathan Auburen KC, representing the Falkland Islands Government, gave legal arguments as to why the case should not go ahead to a full hearing. Counter arguments were heard by David Pievsky KC, representing Unity Marine.
Mr Pievsky submitted that an island wide consultation had been promised and commissioned, but the consultation was considered not needed as it came after a General Election where the majority of candidates were not in favour of salmon farming. Chief Justice James Lewis, appearing in the Falkland Islands via video link, heard evidence from both sides over a three hour session.
It was asserted by Unity Marine representation that there had been a request for a written response from FIG regarding the decision but that this had taken seven months to be sent. The court ruled that Unity Marine had acted sensibly and reasonably in waiting for an anticipated written response, and that as such the time should be extended.
It was said in the Chief Justice’s judgement that, “ExCo did not follow the advice or recommendations” set out in the MacAlister-Elliott & Partners (MEP) report to conduct further consultation.
The court found that the grounds for judicial review put forward by Unity Marine were arguable and so the request by Falkland Islands Government for the application to be set aside were dismissed.