Panel Presentations

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Charles Meredith (Biosis) was asked to sit on a panel for discussion of best practice and introduced this session with the following short presentation, identifying two key points. First Charles identified the fact that courts will only usually apply existing practice, so the real challenge for the ecological profession is to move this forward, especially given a great deal of inertia in the system. Current best practice is only good practice now, rather than what may be necessary best practice in future. Charles also identified the importance of consequences as a driver for best practice. A great failure of the environmental system is that there are often no consequences for poor work. Esablishing standards to achieve best practice is best done through a robust appeal process that involves the public to a great extent.

Matthew Townsend (Barrister) took some time out to look at the use of best practice in a legal sense and found it had not been judicially defined. He introduced the panel to the view that it is a term used to market a set of guidelines or standards deemed to be appropriate for a given situation. Best practice should therefore only be read and understood in in terms of what is done in a given context. On a more practical basis, Matthew identified the need for individuals and their colleagues to do their own research to decide what may be appropriate for a particular circumstance. The legal profession relies heavily on the honesty of its experts so whereas there may be a temptation to do less, under pressure from clients, lawyers only want someone who has independent integrity.

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