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Context-driven choices: environmental valuation in the courtroom

Mukherjee, Sroyon (2019) Context-driven choices: environmental valuation in the courtroom. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004349


This thesis investigates legal cases involving environmental valuation, that is, the exercise of putting a monetary value on environmental goods, services and amenities. There is a vast economics literature on environmental valuation, but relatively little legal literature on the use of environmental valuation in the courtroom. Nevertheless, environmental valuation is relevant, or even central, to a range of cases – for example, when courts are called upon to prospectively (ex ante) evaluate a regulatory costbenefit analysis, or retrospectively (ex post) determine how much compensation to award for environmental damage. This thesis sets out to redress this gap by studying US and Indian court cases involving environmental valuation. In each of these jurisdictions, I analyse and compare prospective and retrospective valuation cases, which legal scholars have traditionally treated as separate spheres of enquiry. There are two analytical themes which tie the case studies together, and help define the approach I take in this thesis. The first is the framework of valuation choices: I characterise environmental valuation as a three‐stage decision process: whether to value or not to value, what values to measure, and how to measure them. A key contribution of my thesis, therefore, is to outline, define and systematically apply an analytical framework – that of valuation choices – in a range of cases spanning two jurisdictions and a variety of subject matter, thereby yielding valuable insights and trends with respect to judicial decision‐making on environmental valuation issues. The second integrating theme is the concept of context-driven valuation. I argue that in both jurisdictions and in each category of case (prospective and retrospective), courts have implicitly or explicitly been making valuation choices, and furthermore, that those choices have been context-driven, that is, impelled by, or justified in light of, context. Drawing on the case studies as well as literature on the judicial role, I argue for a recognition of judges’ own unique expertise at making context‐driven valuation choices.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Sroyon Mukherjee
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Heyvaert, Veerle and Salomon, Margot

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