Locus Standi of Public Interest Groups

While there is not a separate standing test for public interest groups, when determining whether or not a public interest group should be accorded standing, the courts tend to take additional considerations into account. For example, a group must show that it is representative of a significant public concern, and have an ‘established interest in the area’ for it to be accorded standing. Factors which have been deemed relevant by the courts in determining whether a groups has a ‘representative nature’ and an ‘established interest’ are: (1) whether or not the group has some kind of relationship with government (ie, some degree of government recognition; (2) whether or not the group has some prior participation in the relevant area; (3) whether or not there are other possible applicants for standing; (4) the ability of the group to mount an effective challenge; (5) the constitution/objectives of the group; (6) interests of the members of the group; and (7) the importance of the issues at stake. Taking these considerations into account means that, in practice, groups are treated differently to individuals with respect to standing issues. In some regards (for example, in having to show an established interest in a particular area) the standing threshold is arguably higher for a group than for an individual.

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