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Award of Royal Charter Sparks Unique High Court Row

Following a unique High Court dispute, the Association for Project Management (APM) has finally achieved its ambition to receive a Royal Charter, despite the fierce objections of its larger American rival, the Project Management Institute (PMI).

APM, a registered charity, has about 20,000 members in the UK but is dwarfed by PMI which has a worldwide membership of nearly 800,000. However, in July 2013, the Privy Council recommended to Her Majesty that APM be granted a charter.

Finalisation of the award was held up while PMI, a not-for-profit company, launched a judicial review challenge to the move. The case was the first time that the grant or refusal of a Royal Charter had been the subject of litigation.

In dismissing PMI’s complaints, the Court rejected arguments that the decision was infected by apparent bias or predetermination. There was, the Court ruled, nothing irrational about the decision and there had been no unlawful departure from the Privy Council’s published policy.

PMI was anxious that the prestige afforded to APM by a Royal Charter would unfairly advantage its rival in the competition to attract members. However, there was no infringement of competition law alleged and the Court found that such concerns were insufficient to give PMI legal standing to seek judicial review.