[---] The article proposes an updated methodology that returns ‘to the basics’ of doctrinal scholarship, but with an empirical twist enabled through modern database technology. The approach is exemplified through the case study of López Ostra v Spain, a well-known environmental human rights decision under the European Convention on Human Rights. Based on a comprehensive data set of all environmental decisions, the article argues that the ‘landmark’ status of López Ostra is less empirically and doctrinally clear than conventionally accepted in legal scholarship.