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Administrative law, judicial deference, and the Charter

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  • Introduction: The doctrine of judicial deference has been a touchstone in Canadian administrative law for thirty-five years. Put simply, the doctrine recognizes that administrative officials have legitimate authority to interpret the law, which means that judicial review is warranted only if an administrative decision is demonstrably unfair or unreasonable.1 While the tide of deference has ebbed and flowed over this period,2 most administrative decisions these days are assessed according to a standard of reasonableness instead of correctness.3 However, until very recently the Supreme Court has refused to defer to administrative decisions concerning constitutional values, so that any time an administrative official ventured an opinion on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the decision was relatively prone to judicial review.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2014 Constitutional Forum. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Lewans, M. (2014). Administrative law, judicial deference, and the Charter. Constitutional Forum, 23(2), 19-32. Retrieved from