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What is Locus Standi?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Locus standi, a Latin phrase meaning “place to stand” refers to whether or not someone has the right to be heard in court. People may use the term “standing” or “legal standing” to describe this concept. A number of factors can influence locus standi for a given person or situation and legal standing can vary depending on the level of the court as well.

This term applies to people who want to bring suits, individuals who want to address the court, and people who want to be heard in the court. As a general rule, a person has locus standi in a given situation if it is possible to demonstrate that the issue at hand is causing harm and that an action undertaken by the court could redress that harm. If these conditions cannot be satisfied, the court may determine that an issue has no locus standi, and it will not review it.

In a simple example, imagine that a citizen wants to challenge a law. The citizen must first show that he or she is experiencing harm as a result of the law; people cannot, in other words, challenge laws just on the principle of the matter, or because they think that they might harm other people. These individuals must also be able to show that the court could take corrective action such as striking the law down. When the case is filed, the court could determine that the citizen does indeed have locus standi, and the case will be heard.

The legal system is designed to protect and defend the rights of citizens. Courts take special care when they think that a case has no standing. They review the case carefully, consider what may happen if they reject the case, and issue a ruling only after weighing this information. If courts reject a case, they also do so out of concerns that if they accepted it, it might set a precedent, or they might issue a ruling which would not be legally binding or would not stand up to a future challenge because the case had no standing and thus should not have been heard at all.

Having a case rejected does not necessarily mean that it has no merit. In the example of a citizen challenging a law above, for example, a law may actually be illegal or of questionable validity. If someone with standing were to bring the suit, the court could consider the matter and issue a ruling.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a MyLawQuestions researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By suniljha — On Jun 28, 2013

When it's a question of law, it must stand before the court. If the court feels the method of approach is just like a ruling, which doesn't have legal standing, then there is a question of whether the court may consider it or not.

By reader888 — On Mar 27, 2011

I know someone who recently brought a case to the court, and it was determined that they have no legal standing, and the case was not heard. This person is very upset and truly believes that the case is valid, and that his life could be improved greatly if the case were to be heard and result in his favor. He thinks that if he had a better lawyer, they case may have been viewed differently.

Is there anything a person can do if it's already been determined that they have no legal standing? Are you allowed to bring the same case back to the court for review again?

By calpat — On Mar 24, 2011

It's a little disturbing to think that the court can determine that someone has no legal standing and can refuse to hear a case. It seems like people who are actually experiencing a hardship could be rendered helpless. What can they do about their problem if the court refuses to hear them?

On the other hand, I can understand it also. If the court were obligated to hear every single case that every single person brought forth, I'm sure they would get a lot of people bringing ridiculous cases that do nothing but waste the time and money of everyone involved. I would hate to think that the court was too busy to help someone who genuinely needed it because they were busy listening to the cases of people who wanted to do nothing but complain.

By anon137219 — On Dec 27, 2010

i found that sometimes the law is not practical e.g. in the fda rules, there is a provision offense by the company, in this kind of matter, where an owner can appoint a person as a nominee (for escaping liability) to take all liability, who is merely an employee.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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