Animal Justice is seeking leave to intervene in a Supreme Court of Canada case that could have important implications for access to justice in cases involving animals and animal advocates.
To launch a lawsuit, a person or an organization must prove that they have “standing” to do so. If they are directly affected by a situation, they can claim private interest standing. But where a case is focused not on the private rights of an individual but on matters that are of broad public interest, claimants often seek what is known as “public interest standing.” In Attorney General of British Columbia v Council of Canadians with Disabilities, the Supreme Court will consider the law of public interest standing, and address questions about which individuals and organizations should be allowed to bring cases forward to be heard in court.
Legal standing is important to animal protection advocates and lawyers. Animals have not yet been found to have private standing to go to court themselves, so it’s critical for interested individuals and organizations to be able to litigate cases to protect animals from harm and suffering.
The Supreme Court adopted a modern and progressive interpretation of public interest standing in the groundbreaking 2010 decision in Canada (Attorney General) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society. But since then, courts have often denied public interest standing to animal advocacy organizations and individuals who seek to bring cases forward to protect vulnerable animals.
Animal Justice hopes to intervene in the current case to assist the Supreme Court in understanding why public interest standing is essential to ensuring that vulnerable segments of society, like animals, can access the justice system.
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