New Supreme Court Decision Clarifies Public Interest Standing

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) released its decision in British Columbia (AG) v Council of Canadians with Disabilities (see Issue 7 Spotlights, Litigation Updates). The decision clarified the test for public interest standing in Canada (AG) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence. As animals cannot initiate lawsuits themselves, organizations often initiate legal proceedings on behalf of animals using public interest standing. The Court reiterated the discretionary nature of granting public interest standing, and clarified that the test is to be applied in a “liberal and generous manner.” The test requires a judge to weigh three factors: (i) whether the case raises a serious justiciable issue; (ii) whether the party bringing the action has a genuine interest in the matter; and (iii) whether the proposed suit is a reasonable and effective means of bringing the case to court. The decision clarified that an organization can be granted public interest standing if they can establish a concrete and well-developed factual setting for the claim that satisfies the Downtown Eastside test. Animal Justice, which intervened in the case, applauded the decision. Read the SCC decision here, and read Animal Justice’s blog post here.