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.