Barrister Justine Thornton

Justine Thornton

Year of call:
1994
Email:
justine.thornton@39essex.com

Clerks:
+44 (0)20 7832 1190

“A great advocate with a fierce intellect”

“Her client skills are phenomenal; she is very calm, focused and knowledgeable, and instantly instils confidence.”
Chambers & Partners 2014

Justine is recognised as a leading junior in environmental, energy, planning and related areas of public and commercial law.

She has been involved in some of the biggest and most complex environmental litigation in the UK including international group actions for environmental torts. She regularly appears in public law challenges in the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal. She has experience in major inquiries including preparation for an inquiry into a runway at Stansted Airport and an inquiry into a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. She has recently finished a four month trial in the Technology and Construction Court, with a large number of foreign experts and witnesses which required the use of interpreters and document management software in Court.

Chambers & Partners has named Justine in the Chambers 100, a list of the top 100 juniors practising at the Bar across all practice areas. Her reputation means she regularly works with silks from other leading chambers including 20 Essex Street, Matrix Chambers and 11 Kings Bench Walk. Her clients include major utilities and leading industrial companies, Government departments, local authorities, NGO’s and individuals.

Practice Areas:

Planning Environment and Property
Administrative and Public
Information Rights

Sectors:

Energy
Infrastructure

Practice Areas:

Public Law Challenges

Justine regularly appears as an advocate in the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal. She acts for both Claimants and Defendants. Her clients include companies, public authorities, environmental groups and individuals. Her experience includes:

  • Court of Appeal: environmental assessment challenge. Instructed by the Secretary of State (R(Gilbert) v Secretary of State [2015] EWCA Civ 314).
  • Court of Appeal: planning inquiry, expert evidence and reasons. Instructed by the Secretary of State (Georgiou v Secretary of State [2011] LLR 506).
  • Court of Appeal: environmental assessment; reasons. Instructed by the Claimant (R (Burridge) v Breckland District Council [2013] EWCA Civ 228).
  • Court of Appeal: gypsies and green belt development. Instructed by the Claimant (Doran v Secretary of State [2011] EWCA Civ 1798).
  • Court of Appeal: proper approach to section 66 of the Planning and Listed Buildings Act. Junior to Gordon Nardell QC. Instructed by developer wind farm company (Barnwell Manor v East Northamptonshire DC & Secretary of State [2014] EWCA Civ 137).      
  • Administrative Court: novel point of law on standing to bring a statutory challenge. Instructed by the Secretary of State (JB Trustees v Sec of State [2014] JPL 658).
  • Administrative Court: planning inquiry, status of a written ministerial statement and natural justice. Instructed by the Secretary of State (Copas v Secretary of State [2015] JPL 83).
  • Administrative Court: high profile challenge to an incinerator; errors in interpretation of a waste plan. Instructed by the Claimant (R(Khan) v Sutton LBC [2014] EWHC 3663).
  • Administrative Court: natural justice challenge to noise evidence. Instructed by the Secretary of State ( R(Westminster v Sec of State [2014] EWHC 1248)
  • Upper Tribunal: acting for the Department of Energy and Climate Change in relation to disclosure of sensitive information including Cabinet correspondence.
  • Administrative Court: heritage assets and planning judgment. Instructed by the Secretary of State (Holland v Secretary of State [2014] EWHC 566).
  • Administrative Court: challenge to the UK’s implementation of the Waste Directive. Instructed by the Secretary of State and Welsh Government. Junior to Clive Lewis QC (R(UK Recyclate Ltd) v Sec of State [2013] EWHC 425 (Admin))
  • Administrative Court: challenge to domestic allocation of fishing quotas under the Common Fisheries Policy: legitimate expectation, peaceful enjoyment of possessions. Instructed by the Marine Management Organisation (UK Association of Fish Producers v Sec of State and MMO [2013] EWHC 1959 (Admin))
  • Administrative Court: environmental assessment and reasonable foreseeability. Instructed by the Secretary of State (Commercial Estates Group Ltd v Sec of State [2014] EWHC 3089 (Admin))
  • Administrative Court: permitted development, planning permission, telecommunications. Instructed by the Secretary of State (Infocus Public Networks Limited v Secretary of State [2013] EWHC 4622 (Admin)).

Major Inquiry and Parliamentary Work

Justine’s experience ranges from major inquiries to relatively informal public examinations. Her experience includes:

  • Stansted Airport Runway: Justine was assigned to the Department for Transport to help the Department prepare for a major inquiry into an additional runway at Stansted Airport, before the proposal was aborted.   She spent 1 – 2 days a week working for the Department over a period of approximately 15 months.
  • New Nuclear Power Station at Hinkley Point C: Justine was instructed by the energy company EDF on environmental matters in its preparation for the development consent hearings into the company’s proposal for a new nuclear power station.   She spent approximately 1 day a week at EDF’s offices for a period of approximately a year
  • South West Water Water Resources Management Inquiry: Justine was instructed by the Environment Agency for the first ever inquiry into a water company’s water resources management plan.   The inquiry lasted approximately 4 weeks
  • United Utilities’ discharge consents appeal: Justine was instructed by the water and sewerage company United Utilities to appear for the company at a public inquiry into test case appeals against the imposition of conditions on its discharge consents.   The inquiry lasted three weeks
  • North Yorkshire Waste and Minerals plan: Justine was instructed by North Yorkshire County Council to represent the Council at a public examination into its development plan. Justine advised on preparation for 6 – 8 months prior to the examination.
  • Suffolk Coastal Core Strategy Examination: Justine appeared for local residents at the examination.
  • United Utilities’ discharge consents appeal (No 2): Justine was instructed by United Utilities to appear for the company at a further public inquiry into further test case appeals against the imposition of conditions on its discharge consents. The inquiry lasted three to four weeks and was prepared over an 18month period.
  • Surrey County Council Waste Plan: Justine was instructed by developers to protect their interests at a public examination into the Surrey Council Waste Plan.
  • Crossrail  Justine appeared before the House of Commons Select Committee to present petitions in relation to Crossrail
  • HS2 Justine appeared before the House of Commons Select Committee to present a petition in relation to HS2

Group Actions and Civil Litigation for Environmental Damage

Justine regularly appears in complex group actions for environmental damage in the UK and abroad. She has advised in over 30 such cases.  She often works in large teams with lawyers, experts and lay witnesses.

She has recently finished a highly complex four month trial in the Technology and Construction Court. The case involved vulnerable witnesses. Justine was responsible for key areas of the case. She examined and cross examined Spanish speaking expert witnesses, via simultaneous translation. She made closing submissions in relation to the vulnerable witnesses and the framework through which the Court should assess their evidence. The case was conducted using document management software (Opus2 Magnum Cloud technology).

Other complex and novel litigation she has been instructed in relates to deposits of waste (breach of statutory duty; negligence and nuisance); oil spill (public nuisance); flooding (nuisance and negligence); escape of sewage (nuisance and negligence); inhalation of fumes (public nuisance and personal injury)

Advisory Work

Justine regularly advises in relation to habitats; waste; environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental impact assessment, contaminated land; water resources, water pollution, transfrontier shipment of waste

Information Tribunal

Justine appears in the First Tier and Upper Tribunal in relation to disclosure of environmental information.

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

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