Barriers to Public Interest Litigation


Costs are the litigant's risk of exposure to their own and the other party's legal costs if the litigant is unsuccessful in court. Costs are one of the most significant barriers to public interest litigation in Ireland. 

In October 2010, PILA published a report on costs, The Costs Barrier & Protective Costs Orders. In January 2011, the Irish Law Society Gazette ran a cover story by PILA's Legal Officer on the chilling effect of costs on public interest litigation. 

We have also produced an FAQ on protective costs orders.   

Class Actions

Lack of class actions refers to the fact that class actions (proceedings taking by an individual or small group acting on behalf of a big group) are not possible in Ireland except in very limited circumstances.

We have produced an FAQ on class actions.


Legal proceedings are mootwhen there is no longer a legal dispute between the parties. This doctrine of ‘mootness’ is a barrier to public interest litigation as it means that a plaintiff cannot pursue their claim if their individual problem, on which their claim is based, has been resolved. This is so even if the problem may arise for others as the law remains the same.

For example, where a person is challenging a local authority’s imposition of a penalty on them, if the local authority decides not to then pursue the penalty, the claim could not be brought by the plaintiff as the point is now ‘moot’. In this way, the rules, which could be applied to others, could not be challenged. The wider problem that caused the dispute is still unresolved.

We have produced an FAQ on mootness.  

Socio-Economic Rights

The non-justiciability of socio-economic rights refers to the traditional view that socio-economic rights (such as the right to work or the right to accommodation) cannot be judged in a court of law. Under this traditional view, it is the legislature (parliament) and government – not judges – that must decide the extent to which socio-economic rights are protected.

We have produced an FAQ on non-justiciability of economic, social and cultural rightss.


Standing (or locus standi) refers to the rules that say whether a litigant has a right to bring proceedings or be heard in court. Before a claim for judicial review can be heard, the court needs to be satisfied that the person or organisation bringing the judicial review has a right to make their claim heard.

We have produced a, FAQ on standing



Sustaining Partners