Administrative Law, Judicial Deference, and the Charter

Matthew Lewans


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. While the tide of deference has ebbed and flowed over this period, most administrative decisions these days are assessed according to a standard of reasonableness instead of correctness.

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