Scientific and Legal Mechanisms for Addressing Model Uncertainties: Negotiating the Right Balance in Finnish Judicial Review?

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Environmental models are ubiquitous in assessing the environmental impacts of planned projects. Modelling is an inferential process and includes various mechanisms to address the uncertainty of the outcome. In this article, we acknowledge the continuum of uncertainty assessments and identify the legal mechanisms with which Finnish judicial review—characterised by broad scope of review and in-house expert judges—has encountered model uncertainty. Closely examining 10 waters-related cases heard by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, we explain the porous yet substantial boundary between science and law revealed by the cases. The cases demonstrate the elegance with which courts can strike a balance between the contingent precautionary principle, gradually decreasing scientific uncertainty, and the procedural constraints under which they operate. We conclude by analysing the traces towards reciprocality and adaptivity the cases reveal, encouraged by the iterative modelling mechanism and challenged by the constitutional restrictions on the scope of review.
Translated title of the contributionTieteelliset ja oikeudelliset mekanismit tarttumassa mallien epävarmuuksiin:: Suomalainen oikeuskäytäntö tasapainoa etsimässä
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)283-308
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 513 Law
  • Judicial review
  • environmental models
  • groundwater regulation
  • water governance
  • the EU Water Framework Directive

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