Introduction | Towards a Unified Theory of Administrative Law? (00:12:18)

Introduction | Towards a Unified Theory of Administrative Law?
Friday, May 29, 2020  Ι 11:30 – 11:40 am

The focus of much of the administrative law community – practitioners, courts, academics – is almost exclusively on the issue of standard of review. There is no doubt that there is a need for a consistent and easily applicable legal framework for determining the standard of review applicable to administrative decisions, and that the concerns over that lack of clarity reflected in the decade’s worth of jurisprudence between Dunsmuir and Vavilov were warranted. However, this almost exclusive focus on the standard of review has arguably masked a number of equally important aspects of administrative law, the principles (or lack thereof) that underlie them, and how they relate to the broader issues of access to justice and the constitutionally-mandated judicial review of government decision-making.

Each of these various aspects or subsets of administrative law have their own rationales or theories, which guide the courts and litigants in the discrete adversarial disputes where they arise. All of this asks us to ponder: What is the goal of judicial review, and administrative law more generally, in Canada, and how best do we go about reaching that goal in a principled fashion? Is it even possible to have a unified theory or approach to judicial review that “works” for all decision-makers? Or, is it enough to simply agree on a core set of underlying principles that will animate the legislature and the judiciary’s approach when dealing with discrete aspects of administrative law?


  • With Lauren J. Wihak, Lawyer, McDougall Gauley LLP Barristers + Solicitors

Online Program | National Roundtable on Administrative Law (2020 Edition): Towards a Unified Theory of Administrative Law?