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Issue locus standi

The issue of locus standi is technically a preliminary one for the administrative action of the judicial review. Essentially, locus standi is the way in which the courts determine who may be an applicant for judicial review. If a particular applicant is found to have standing then they will be permitted to have their request heard (though determining that an applicant has locus standi will not necessarily mean that they will be successful in their final application). On the other hand, if the applicant is not found to have standing to bring the action, the court will not hear their complaint. Section 31(3) of the Supreme Court Act 1981 provides that No application for judicial review shall be madeunlessthe application has a sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates. This provision therefore limits the number of challenges to administrative decisions, which would otherwise cause unnecessary interference to the administrative process. However, although the issue of locus standi is technically a preliminary issue, the courts have held that apart from in cases where the applicant interest is so tenuous that standing can easily be denied prior to the hearing of the merits (i.e. at the leave stage), standing will generally be determined alongside the merits of the case. In the IRC v National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses [1982] AC 617 the House of Lords held that the standing should be considered in two stages. Firstly, at the leave stage the court should refuse locus standi to anyone who appears to be a mere busybody or mischief maker (per Lord Scarman). Secondly, if leave is granted, the court may consider standing again as part of the hearing of the merits of the case, where it may decide that in fact the applicant does not have a sufficient interest. Locus standi, where individuals are concerned it will normally be fairly easy for them to demonstrate sufficient interest, so long as they are in some way personally interest in the decision they wish to challenge. In R v Independent Broadcasting Authority, ex parte Whitehouse, a television licence holder was found to have sufficient to challenge a decision to broadcast a controversial film. It was indicated that every television licence holder would have locus standi in litigation relating to broadcast of programmes likely to give offence. Thus, the fact that the applicant was a licence-holder, rather than simply a viewer, was enough to give her sufficient standing.