Public Coursework

R v Somerset County Council ex parte Dixon [1998] Env LR 111 – this is the main reading for this seminar. The law report is on Blackboard. (We could have cut out the discussion on standing and just posted that as an excerpt but it is better for you, as a law student, to get used to looking at full reports and you can focus your reading on the sections of the judgment most relevant to standing. ) Q1. Identify the significance of the judgment in the Fleet Street Casuals case for the law on standing.

The House of Lords denied the Federation standing to challenge the decision of the Inland Revenue to overlook some of the tax owed by casual newspaper workers (the ‘Fleet Street casuals’). The case gives guidance on the meaning of the requirement for standing in Supreme Court Act 1981 s 31(3) , that the claimant should have a ‘sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates’. The claimant in the case was a business Federation that resented tax breaks being given to the workers.

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In the Court of Appeal, Lord Denning held that the Federation had a sufficient interest because its members had ‘a genuine grievance’ ([1980] QB 407, 425). The House of Lords overruled the decision and held that they did not have standing. But the Law Lords made it clear that the Federation would have had standing to challenge an ‘exceptionally grave or widespread illegality’ (Lord Fraser, 647). The case illustrates the connection between the merits of a claim, and the interest of a claimant in having it heard

Q2. * What was the conclusion of the court in Dixon on whether Mr Dixon had standing? Mr Dixon is a local resident, a parish councillor in the Whatley area, a member of the executive committee of the Somerset Association of Local Councils, a member of more than one body concerned with the environment and a candidate for election to the district council covering Whatley Quarry. Mr Ouseley contends that Mr Dixon, having no interest as a andowner or as the possessor of a personal right or interest threatened by the proposed quarrying, has no “sufficient interest” within the Supreme Court Act 1981, s 31(3), and RSC Ord 53, r 3(7).

Mr Gordon submits that Mr Dixon`s characteristics give him an interest greater than that of the general public. I doubt whether this is so, but I reject the intended respondents` submission that for this reason he lacks standing What were the principal authorities relied by the court in reaching this conclusion? * Were all of Mr. Dixon’s arguments in relation to standing accepted? * Would it have been possible for Sedley J. to reach a different conclusion, or was he absolutely bound by precedent? Q3. Look at Parpworth p. 275 ‘Reform of locus standi’. Given how the courts have developed their approach to standing since Fleet Street Casuals, is there any need to adopt either the Law Commission or Cane proposals?

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