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R v Foreign Secretary, ex parte World Development Movement [1995] 1 WLR 386

Facts: Acting under powers conferred by the Overseas Development and Cooperation Act 1980, the Foreign Secretary sought to provide £195m in aid to the Malaysian Government to support the building of a hydroelectric dam. By any sensible economic assessment (including an official assessment carried out by an auditor), the dam was a “bad buy,” because electricity generation by the dam would be so expensive it would actually lead to increased energy costs for Malaysians.

The World Development Movement, who campaigns for more and better aid (i.e. they are an interest group), sought to challenge the decision to award aid to the dam-building project on the grounds that the money could be better spent elsewhere - and indeed, that the funding of the dam would actually cause Malaysians harm.

Held: It was held that the legal and factual context of the challenge was necessary in determining standing i.e. whether or not World Development Movement could judicially review the decision

  • In this case, then, World Development Movement had sufficient interest in the matter having regard to their work; the absence of an alternative challenger and the significance of the issue; and the prominence of WDM in the field of foreign aid

The case advances a real possibility that pressure groups, NGOs, and lobbyists might has sufficient interest in a public decision and thus standing to bring a claim.

  • One does not have to be directly affected by a decision!

R v IRC, ex parte National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses [1982] AC 617

Facts: Some ‘Fleet Street casuals’ (i.e. newspaper workers), of which there were 6,000 working on newspapers, regularly gave false names and addresses when taking payment for their casual work, such that they might evade tax.

The Inland Revenue sought to deduct tax at source, or otherwise secure taxes, by introducing new processes. Where Fleet Street cooperated, it would offer an amnesty in respect of historical tax claims.

  • In other words, the tax man said they would make no actions for previous non payment of taxes but said they should from now on

A federation representing small businesses (which had nothing to do with the Fleet Street Casuals) objected to the amnesty and sought judicial review.

Held: It was held, on appeal, that they did not have sufficient interest in the decision to grant an amnesty as they were no more than a interest group or body of taxpayers enquiring into the tax affairs of others.

  • So they did not have standing

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