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R v Somerset CC, ex parte Dixon

[1998] EnvLR 111

Case summary last updated at 08/01/2020 14:22 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R v Somerset CC, ex parte Dixon

This was an application for permission to seek JR, and P, a mere private citizen, sought to challenge what he saw as an illegality in the grant of planning permission. SCC tried to claim tht P had no locus standi, but the court refused this argument, saying that the “permission stage” was to ensure that the applicant was not prompted by an ill motive, was a busybody or a trouble maker. The evidence did not suggest this. Furthermore where an abuse of power was made out at the substantive hearing, the applicant's standing would be taken into account when considering the grant or the form of relief. 
Sedley J: “Public law is not at base about rights, even though abuses of power may and often do invade private rights; it is about wrongs—that is to say misuses of public power; and the courts have always been alive to the fact that a person or organisation with no particular stake in the issue or the outcome may, without in any sense being a mere meddler, wish and be well placed to call the attention of the court to an apparent misuse of public power. If an arguable case of such misuse can be made out on an application for leave, the court's only concern is to ensure that it is not being done for an ill motive. It is if, on a substantive hearing, the abuse of power is made out that everything relevant to the applicant's standing will be weighed up, whether with regard to the grant [of judicial review] or simply to the form of relief.” This confines ‘sufficient interest’ to ‘not acting in bad faith’ at the permission stage, but doesn’t tell us what the test of standing will involve at the substantive full hearing. 

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