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Declaratory Judgment and Standing

The purpose of a declaratory judgment is to settle and to afford relief from uncertainty and insecurity with respect to rights, status and other legal relations. It is commonly used in the context of contracts and legal documents to determine what someone’s particular rights and duties may be in light of a contract or document. By way of further example, it is also often used to invalidate statutes. Certain elements must be present to request and receive a declaratory judgment. Specifically, declaratory relief requires (1) a justiciable controversy; (2) a legally protectable interest at stake; (3) a controversy ripe for judicial determination; and (4) an inadequate remedy at law. Missouri Soybean v. Missouri Clean Water, 102 S.W.3d 10, 25 (Mo. 2003); § 527.020, RSMo. All elements must be present, but the “legally protectable interest” requirement does limit who may bring the suit. A legally protectable interest is present if the petitioning party has “a pecuniary or personal interest directly at issue and subject to immediate or prospective consequential relief.” Mo Soybean Ass’n v. Mo. Clean Water Comm’n, 102 S.W.3d 10, 25 (Mo. 2003). In other words, the person requesting the declaratory judgment must have some legally cognizable interest and a threatened or real injury. You must, in keeping with the prior examples, have a direct interest in the contract or statute. Without this connection, the Court cannot entertain and enter a declaratory judgment. 

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