As a general rule, a party must be beneficially interested to seek a writ of mandate—that has some special interest to be served or some particular right to be preserved or protected over and above the interest held in common with the public at large. However, when the question is one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to enforce a public duty, the petitioner need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, since it is sufficient that he is interested as a citizen in having the laws executed and the duty in question enforced. There is no right to proceed under this public interest exception, but the court may, in its discretion, permit a petitioner to invoke it when the public duty is sharp and the public need weighty. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing petitioner to proceed on this basis here where the city allegedly violated an initiative-adopted restriction on its ability to approve highway billboards. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing this mandamus action to proceed against the city without joinder of the private party to the city’s contract which the proceeding sought to invalidate. The private party’s interests were aligned with the city’s as the contract required the private party to defend and indemnify the city. Also, the indemnity provision granted the private party the right to control the defense of the action.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4 (Collins, J.); November 7, 2018; 28 Cal. App. 5th 1159