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Standing of Groups or Organizations

If an injury caused by an administrative agency affects the public, particularly when the affected public interest is represented by an authorized official or agent of the state, then neither an individual nor group of individuals will have any standing to appeal.  Similarly, an organization has no standing to challenge the action of an administrative agency based upon a mere interest in a problem.  However, an organization has standing to represent its members if they are injured.[i]

An organization can seek relief under certain circumstances.  It can seek relief for institutional injuries suffered as a result of agency action.  Similarly, an organization can seek relief as a representative of its members in particularized situations, even where there is no injury to the organization.  However, the possibility of such representational standing will not eliminate the constitutional requirement of a case or controversy.

In Appeal of Stonyfield Farm, 159 N.H. 227 (N.H. 2009)the court observed that in order to have standing to appeal an administrative agency decision, a party must demonstrate that his/her rights can be directly affected by the decision, or in other words, that s/he has suffered or will suffer an injury in fact.

In order to assert the representational standing of an organization, it must establish certain factors such as:[ii]

  • The members of the association have standing to sue in their own right otherwise;
  • The interests that the organization intents to protect are relevant to the purpose of the organization;
  • The claim asserted or the relief requested does not require the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.

It was observed in International Union, United Auto., etc. v. Brock, 477 U.S. 274 (U.S. 1986) that even where the members of an association suffered injury that can otherwise support a suit by the association, still the standing of an association to invoke the remedial powers of the court on behalf of its members depends in substantial measure on the nature of the relief sought.

[i] Appeal of Richards, 134 N.H. 148 (N.H. 1991)

[ii] United Food & Commer. Workers Union Local 751 v. Brown Group, 517 U.S. 544 (U.S. 1996)

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