Supreme Court

Charter of Rights

Other means by which issues could be brought before court not absolute bar to public interest standing

Organization advocating for female sex workers and individual former sex worker sought to bring constitutional challenge to prostitution provisions of Criminal Code. Application judge found that applicants had no standing and rejected their request for public interest standing on basis that other reasonable means existed to bring issues raised before court. Court of Appeal ruled that applicants should be granted public interest standing. Crown appeal dismissed. Courts should consider three factors in determining whether to grant public interest standing: whether case raises serious issue; whether party has real stake in proceedings; and whether proposed suit is reasonable and effective means to bring issues to court. Test should be applied generously and flexibly. Test for standing was satisfied in this case. Applicants were well-organized and engaged with relevant issues and could effectively present their case. Existence of other means by which issues could be brought before court was not absolute bar to public interest standing.

Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society v. Canada (Attorney General) (Sep. 21, 2012, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., LeBel, Deschamps, Fish, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell, Moldaver and Karakatsanis JJ., File No. 33981) Decision at 90 W.C.B. (2d) 617; 193 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1148 was affirmed. 103 W.C.B. (2d) 625.

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