On June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Council of Canadians with Disabilities about the test for public interest standing. HALCO intervened in the case in coalition with several other specialty legal clinics, represented by the ARCH Disability Law Centre.
Public interest standing is the way that public interest organizations can start litigation on behalf of groups of individuals. For many equity seeking groups, public interest standing is an important tool for access to justice because it can be difficult and expensive for individuals to start a lawsuit themselves.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld its earlier decision in Canada (Attorney General) v. Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society (in which HALCO also intervened) on the test for public interest standing. In particular, it said courts must assess and weigh three factors when deciding whether to grant or deny public interest standing. Courts must also consider the purposes that justify granting standing – this includes giving people a way to hold governments accountable to the law and ensuring access to justice.
Preserving access to public interest standing means that legal clinics can continue to ensure that courts hear the voices of all communities. You can read the full press release here.