What is legal Standing?
Legal standing, or locus standi, refers to the right or capacity to bring an action or to appear in a court. Domestic legislation generally requires a nexus between the offense and the damage suffered by a person to grant him/her legal standing for criminal or civil legal proceedings. Constitutional, administrative, or class action procedures have different requirements for standing. Standing for collective damages follows a different principle than the nexus, focuses on the damage, and is often based on the representation of collective rights.
For some victims, especially in corruption-related cases, establishing a direct nexus is an insurmountable obstacle that prevents them from obtaining reparation for their harm.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes that in corruption-related cases, some groups of persons may not be readily considered victims, and their legal standing may be denied when they cannot prove a direct and specific interest. It echoes the observation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which states that tracing the damage caused by the theft of public assets to a particular victim, a group of victims, or to a specific entity, represents an obstacle in some instances. On the other hand, in some cases –including accident or malpractice victims created by corruption or indigenous groups whose lands are affected – courts have agreed that victims can show the required nexus.
To overcome this difficulty, some jurisdictions have granted civil society organizations’ legal standing in corruption cases, allowing them to initiate litigation, represent groups of victims and claim redress on behalf of the public interest. Within the framework of this database, the notion of “legal standing for CSOs and/or citizens” encompasses the right or capacity of a civil society organization, a citizen, or a group of citizens to bring an action and be represented on behalf of themselves or of the public interest before the courts of a jurisdiction, whether in criminal, civil or administrative proceedings, in a corruption-related case.