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A PIL case may be brought by one person or one organisation, or by a group of people and/or organisations.
There are significant benefits of bringing a PIL case as a group.
The benefits include;
But there are also difficulties that can arise when bringing a PIL case as a group. If you are thinking of bringing a group action, there are a number of things that you need to think about carefully.
a) Does Everyone in your Group Have the Right to Bring the Case?
There are situations in which only organisations and not individual persons will be able to bring a case.
There are also situations where only certain individuals can bring a case, meaning your whole group must satisfy certain criteria.
If you try to bring a case as a group, and certain members don’t have the right to bring the case, your case could be dismissed. That is why it is important to check everyone in your group has a right to bring case.
For more information, see “Who Can Take Legal Action?”.
b) Does Everyone in the Group Have Compatible Objectives and Interests?
Tensions can arise when different members of the group have different objectives in bringing a PIL case.
It is important that the group’s objectives in bringing a PIL case are agreed upon at the early stages. This could avoid problems later.
c) Is Everyone in the Group Able to Commit the Necessary Time and Resources?
While bringing a PIL case as a group can be a good way of getting resources, this is only the case if the members of the group are committed to the case and willing to dedicate the time and financial resources for it to be successful.
d) Does Everyone in the Group Have the Same Willingness to Take Risks?
Bringing a PIL case against a powerful defendant can involve security risks (see “How do I Deal with my Security?”).
Different members of your group may have different levels of willingness to live with the risks that a PIL case can bring. One’s willingness to accept risks can depend on the financial circumstances, personality, and vulnerability of each member of the group. This applies not just to actual group members, but to witnesses, supporters, and families of group members.
Bringing a legal case with others is usually a major commitment which means working closely together over a long period of time. It also often means taking risks together. It is therefore crucial that the members of the group know each other well enough and that there is a high level of trust among them.
To avoid future problems and make sure everyone is on the same page, set clear ground rules for cooperation among the members of the group bringing the case.
The rules should cover issues such as:
If there are many lawyers and representatives arguing the case, group dynamics can be complicated. It is important to think about the issues that could arise beforehand.
The following story shows what can go wrong;
Some examples of tensions that could arise in this group are:
Think about the possible tensions and disagreements that could arise in your case. Pay particular attention to these when making a set of ground rules for cooperation.