Access to the U.S. Federal Courts: only interested parties need apply?

Barry Hough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the progress towards a comprehensive system of administrative law withering fire has been directed at the doctrine of locus standi as traditional expounded. The dichotomy forged by the civil law between public and private rights, the former belonging to the right-holder, is simplistic and inadequate in a pluralistic society in which there exist “numerous groups, communities and collectives” between the individual and the State. A system which regards a remedy as a corr3elative of a right or interest is somewhat paradoxical; for in public interest litigation the court is expected to have regard to, and to protect, the public interest, but must do so at the instance of an individual affected in his private capacity. Applied most strictly, this tends to undermine the rule of law since, if no suitably qualified challenger will present himself as plaintiff, the unlawful conduct of defendant may continue without a remedy. Moreover, administrative law has developed somewhat illogically to a point at which it cannot protect the meritorious but unqualified litigant in cases such as Gouriet v. Union of Post Office Workers, but it can offer protection tot he unmeritorious litigant affected by an administrative decision which is vitiated by procedural defects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-102
Number of pages18
JournalDenning Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1986


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