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Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Chapter one: Defining the constitution
  3. Chapter two: Parliamentary sovereignty
  4. Chapter three: The rule of law and the separation of powers
  5. Chapter four: The royal prerogative
  6. Chapter five: The House of Commons
  7. Chapter six: The House of Lords
  8. Chapter seven: The electoral system
  9. Chapter eight: Parliamentary privilege
  10. Chapter nine: Constitutional conventions
  11. Chapter ten: Local government
  12. Chapter eleven: Parliamentary sovereignty within the European Union
  13. Chapter twelve: The governance of Scotland and Wales
  14. Chapter thirteen: Substantive grounds of judicial review 1: illegality, irrationality and proportionality
  15. Chapter fourteen: Procedural grounds of judicial review
  16. Chapter fifteen: Challenging governmental decisions: the process
  17. Chapter sixteen: Locus standi
    1. Boyce v Paddington Borough Council [1903] 1 Ch 109
    2. Gregory and Another v London Borough of Camden [1966] 2 All ER 196
    3. R v Thames Magistrates Court, ex parte Greenbaum [1957] LGR 129
    4. R v Greater London Council, ex parte Blackburn [1976] 3 All ER 184
    5. Supreme Court Act 1981
    6. Inland Revenue Commissioners and National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1981] 2 All ER 93
    7. R v Felixstowe Justices, ex parte Leigh and another [1987] 1 All ER 551
    8. R v Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Rose Theatre Trust Co [1990] 1 All ER 754
    9. R v Inspectorate of Pollution and another, ex parte Greenpeace Ltd [1994] 4 All ER 329 (No 2)
    10. R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, ex parte World Development Movement Ltd [1995] 1 All ER 611
  18. Chapter seventeen: Human rights I: Traditional perspectives
  19. Chapter eighteen: Human rights II: Emergent principles
  20. Chapter nineteen: Human rights III: New substantive grounds of review
  21. Chapter twenty: Human rights IV: The Human Rights Act 1998
  22. Chapter twenty-one: Human rights V: The impact of The Human Rights Act 1998
  23. Chapter twenty-two: Human rights VI: Governmental powers of arrest and detention
  24. Chapter twenty-three: Leaving the European Union

R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, ex parte World Development Movement Ltd [1995] 1 All ER 611

Rose LJ:....The affidavit of Mr Jackson, the applicants' campaign co-ordinator, describes the applicant company. It is a non-partisan pressure group, over 20 years old and limited by guarantee. It has an associated charity which receives financial support from all the main United Kingdom development charities, the churches, the European Community and a range of other trusts. About 60% of its total income comes from members and supporters. The council of the applicants has cross-political party membership, and, indeed, historically, a Member of Parliament from each of the three main political parties has sat on the council. There are 7,000 full voting members throughout the United Kingdom with a total supporter base of some 13,000. There are 200 local groups whose supporters actively campaign through letter-writing, lobbying and other democratic means to improve the quantity and quality of British aid to other countries. It conducts research and analysis in relation to aid. It is a founder member of the Independent Group on British Aid, which brings academics and campaigners together. It has pressed the British government, the European Union, the banks and other businesses for better trade access for developing countries. It is in regular contact with the ODA and has regular meetings with the minister of that department, and it makes written and oral submissions to a range of select committees in both Houses of Parliament. It has run all-party campaigns against aid cuts in 1987 and 1992.

Internationally, it has official consultative status with UNESCO and has promoted international conferences. It has brought together development groups within the OECD. It tends to attract citizens of the United Kingdom concerned about the role of the United Kingdom government in relation to the development of countries abroad and the relief of poverty abroad.

Its supporters have a direct interest in ensuring that funds furnished by the United Kingdom are used for genuine purposes, and it seeks to ensure that disbursement of aid budgets is made where that aid is most needed. It seeks, by this application, to represent the interests of people in developing countries who might benefit from funds which otherwise might go elsewhere.

If the applicants have no standing, it is said that no person or body would ensure that powers under the 1980 Act are exercised lawfully. For the applicants Mr Pleming QC submitted that the Foreign Secretary himself, in a written statement of 2 March 1994, has expressly accepted that the matter is "clearly of public and Parliamentary interest". It cannot be said that the applicants are 'busybodies'.... They are a non-partisan pressure group concerned with the misuse of aid money. If there is a public law error, it is difficult to see how else it could be challenged and corrected except by such an applicant...

Mr Pleming also referred to R v Secretary of State for Social Services, ex p Child Poverty Action Group [1989] 1 All ER 1047, [1990] 2 QB 540, where that group was held to have a sufficient interest or standing. He referred also to R v Inspectorate of Pollution, ex p Greenpeace Ltd (No 2) [1994] 4 All ER 329.... Finally on this aspect, he invited the court's attention to R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex p Rees-Mogg [1994] 1 All ER 457 at 461 where Lloyd LJ, delivering the judgment of the Divisional Court..., accepted that the applicant had standing 'because of his sincere concern for constitutional issues'. The question of lawfulness being for the court, Mr Pleming submitted that the court in its discretion should accept the standing of the applicants. If they cannot seek relief, he said, who can? Neither a government nor citizen of a foreign country denied aid is, in practical terms, likely to be able to bring such a challenge.

For the Foreign Secretary, there is no evidential challenge to the applicants' standing. Mr Richards made submissions on sufficiency of interest, not with a view to preventing the court from considering the substantive issue as to the validity of the decision, but because sufficiency of interest goes to the court's jurisdiction..... The applicants, Mr Richards submitted, are at the outer limits of standing. He submitted, and indeed Mr Pleming accepted, that neither the applicants nor any of the individual members have any direct personal interest in funding under the 1980 Act, but they seek to act in the interest of potential recipients of aid overseas. Mr Richards submitted that this is too remote an interest to be sufficient, and he contrasted Greenpeace members, some of whom, as Otton J pointed out, were liable to be personally directly affected by radioactive discharge.

Mr Richards accepted that the requirements of standing will vary from case to case and that the court may accord standing to someone who would not otherwise qualify where exceptionally grave or widespread illegality is alleged. He referred to that part of Lord Diplock's speech in IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd......

It is to be observed, in passing, that there are dicta since IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd which are in favour of according standing to a single taxpayer in an appropriate case (see R v HM Treasury, ex p Smedley [1985] 1 All ER 589 at 595, 594, [1985] QB 657 at 670, 667 per Slade LJ and Donaldson MR).... The rules of standing should not, submitted Mr Richards, be allowed to evolve further so as to embrace the applicants.

For my part...I find nothing in IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd to deny standing to these applicants. The authorities referred to seem to me to indicate an increasingly liberal approach to standing on the part of the courts during the last 12 years. It is also clear from IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd that standing should not be treated as a preliminary issue, but must be taken in the legal and factual context of the whole case....

Furthermore, the merits of the challenge are an important, if not dominant, factor when considering standing. In Professor Sir William Wade's words in Administrative Law (7th edn, 1994) p 712:

"the real question is whether the applicant can show some substantial default or abuse, and not whether his personal rights or interests are involved".

Leaving merits aside for a moment, there seem to me to be a number of factors of significance in the present case: the importance of vindicating the rule of law, as Lord Diplock emphasised in IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1981] 2 All ER 93 at 107; the importance of the issue raised, as in Ex p Child Poverty Action Group; the likely absence of any other responsible challenger, as in Ex p Child Poverty Action Group and Ex p Greenpeace Ltd; the nature of the breach of duty against which relief is sought (see IRC v National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd [1981] 2 All ER 93 at 96 per Lord Wilberforce); and the prominent role of these applicants in giving advice, guidance and assistance with regard to aid (see Ex p Child Poverty Action Group [1989] 1 All ER 1047 at 1048). All, in my judgment, point, in the present case, to the conclusion that the applicants here do have a sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates within s 31(3) of the 1981 Act and Ord 53, r 3(7).

It seems pertinent to add this, that if the Divisional Court in Ex p Rees-Mogg eight years after Ex p Argyll Group was able to accept that the applicant in that case had standing in the light of his 'sincere concern for constitutional issues', a fortiori, it seems to me that the present applicants, with their national and international expertise and interest in promoting and protecting aid to underdeveloped nations, should have standing in the present application.