Consider Briefly but Critically the Notion of Juridical Interest An interest may be defined as “the object of any human desire and the object of such desire must be distinguished from the thing in respect of which the desire is entertained” The notion of juridical interest links the substantive with the procedure in civil law, where the individual goes on with a civil action because he has a right and interest to institute the case and hopefully obtain a favourable result. Moreover, juridical interest forms part of the “presupposti processuali” that is a requirement to have in existence a valid action and in fact without the juridical interest an action cannot be instituted. This “presuppost processuali” is so important that for the action to remain valid till the end the juridical interest has to exist in the individual bringing the action or the individual responding to the action till the end. Once interest stops the action becomes defective and “locus standi” no longer subsist.
Various authors have propounded different theories on juridical interest, but what is undisputed is that the scope of having a juridical interest throughout the action is to circumvent those actions which are frivolous and vexatious and therefore protect the courts from unnecessary delays. Having sufficient interest means that either the “kjamat” or the “intervenjent” is able to show that one of his rights has been violated or that one would like to get damages and the re-instatement of rights after the violation.
Showing interest to get a remedy or else a declaration of righteousness is of utmost importance. Our Maltese code does not contain any provision of law defining juridical interest or setting out the requirements, but the requirements at law can be deduced from some of the articles such as: 960. Any person who shows to the satisfaction of the court that he is interested in any suit already pending between other parties, may, on an application, be admitted in statu et terminis, as a party to the suit at any stage thereof, whether in first or in second instance; but such admission shall not suspend the proceedings of the suit.
422. During the compilation of the competition proceedings, no money forming the subject-matter of such proceedings may be paid out without the consent of all the parties interested, unless the court, with a view to avoiding the accruing of interest to the prejudice of all the parties, or for any other good reason, shall deem it proper to satisfy the claim of any one of the competitors the priority or preference of which has not been contested.
In Muscat pro et noe vs Buttigieg pro et noe it was stated that juridical interest has to be direct and personal, legal and actual or immediate. Where the Court ruled stated that: “L-interess irid ikun a) guridiku, jigifieri d-domanda jrid ikun fiha ipotesi ta’ l-ezistenza ta’ dritt u l-vjolazzjoni tieghu; b) dirett u personali: fis-sens li huwa dirett meta jezisti fil-kontestazzjoni jew fil-konsegwenzi taghha, personali fis-sens li jirrigwarda l-attur, hlief fl-azzjoni popolari; c) attwali fis-sens li jrid johrog minn stat attwali ta’ vjolazzjoni ta’ dritt, jigifieri l-vjolazzzjoni attwali tal-ligi trid tikkonsisti f’kondizzjoni posittiva jew negattiva kontrarja ghall-godiment ta’ dritt legalment appartenenti jew spettanti lid-detentur. Il-Qorti sabet illi l-attrici ma kellhiex interess guridiku biex tistiwixxi l-azzjoni u b’hekk cahdet it-talbiet taghha.”
An interest which is direct and personal means that it should pertain to the parties involved in the case that is the plaintiff, defendant, the joinder and the intervener, where all of these need to have a direct and personal interest to be included in proceedings. The interest needs also to be based on law; one cannot claim a breach of one’s right, when in actual fact the law does not give any right to the individual in the first place. Moreover, interest needs to be actual that is directed to a benefit which does not necessary mean money or property, but may also be directed to the seeking of god name in society. However, over the 20 years there has been a movement to accept collective juridical interest.
Recently House of Parliament passed the Collective Proceedings Act, which makes provision for a group of individuals with common interest to institute an action collectively against a defendant. Although, the remit within which this law will operate is restrictive since it applies to consumers, yet it paves the way for further similar legislation on the matter. Some other legislations give a legal standing to NGOs, since they generally represent the common interest of their members, yet our law does not give locus standi to NGOs as yet.