New 'Green Law' Unit for Legal Firm

Posted on January 28, 2020

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A Manx law firm has set up an environmental law unit to meet anticipated demand in this growth area. M&P Legal has dedicated three lawyers to amass further experience and expertise in Manx environmental law. This coincides with Tynwald approving a long term climate change mitigation strategy.

M&P Legal itself has partner status with UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man. It has already advised on some key environmental law aspects as part of other legal services it offers to clients. Now a three person unit has been established comprising the firm’s managing director John Aycock, plus solicitor and soon to be qualified advocate Joshua Quinn and advocate Michael Mudge, both of whom have recently joined M&P Legal from other Manx practices.

Unit head John Aycock explained that Manx environmental law covers a wide range of public and private law and is not a self contained regime. Not only are there Acts of Tynwald but relevant Acts of Parliament and then international environmental law treaties to which the Isle of Man may be party.

Mr Aycock said: “The unit is timely as Tynwald has just absorbed and approved the findings of the Climate Emergency Consultative Transformation Team headed by Professor James Curran. Even a cursory review of Professor Curran’s report shows the complexity involved in how the Isle of Man can play its part in mitigating the effects of climate change. It seems clear that the Isle of Man has an opportunity to take a lead given its self contained nature and the nimble law-making facility already in place here. We at M&P Legal hope to assist with this process by provision of specialist legal advice which can cover all sorts of areas from property and planning (for example environmental impact assessments on major new projects) through to myriad other matters including farming, animal welfare, litter, public health, human rights, drainage, energy, minerals, fisheries and the marine environment and pollution matters”.

Mr Aycock stated that the Isle of Man does not simply reproduce the UK’s law as to the environment. For instance, the Wildlife Act 1990 of Tynwald specifically takes account of Manx marine fauna in regard to species protection such as basking sharks. The 1990 Act also differs from the English version in that it has wider scope as it covers offences where the perpetrator has acted recklessly as well as intentionally (the English Act having a more narrow scope).

The M&P Legal environmental law unit is bolstered by Joshua Quinn and Michael Mudge. Mr Quinn graduated from Durham University with a degree in Environmental Geoscience and worked as a solicitor in England for five years in a practice that focused on rural legal matters. In acting as a solicitor there, Mr Quinn advised on environmental law matters and acted in a number of farming related cases.

Mr Mudge has local property law experience and an interest in human rights. He conducts a broad range of legal work at M&P Legal and is therefore well suited to adding the environmental law angle to these various work areas.

The M&P Legal environmental law unit has already prepared a comprehensive digest of all Manx environmental law running to thirteen pages of Acts of Tynwald and various other legislative and treaty items. Mr Aycock concluded:

“The Professor Curran report maps out a way forward that seems likely to affect every individual in the Isle of Man. The framework seeks to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This will need considerable political will and focus not to mention visionary leadership. The legal profession as a service industry can help smooth and procure fundamental change such as this and I hope that our new environmental law unit will be the start of our contribution to the robust governance, wide public support and leadership at all levels of civic society that Professor Curran identifies in his report as being needed.

I would like to think that M&P Legal is a pioneering firm and able to move rapidly to suit society’s changing needs. We were the first law firm in the Isle of Man to incorporate when the rules changed to allow this twenty years ago. In 2004 we set up an employment law unit and it is very pleasing to note that we are now ranked among the top ranked firms for the provision of employment law in the Isle of Man.”

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