Judicial Review, Irrationality, and the Legitimacy of Merits-Review

Turner, Ian David orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8012-1480 (2008) Judicial Review, Irrationality, and the Legitimacy of Merits-Review. Liverpool Law Review, 29 (3). pp. 309-333. ISSN 0144-932X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10991-008-9047-4


The definition of the irrationality ground of judicial review recognises the constitutional principle of the separation of powers, in allowing for judicial control of the executive only very rarely. The author in a previous article in this study found that the courts, on occasions, had intervened in circumstances where administrative decisions arguably were not irrational. To this end, the purpose of this article is to assess the constitutionality of these seemingly low standards of irrationality. The author does so by reference either to the manner of review employed—the use of the proportionality principle, for example—or the context of the administrative decision under scrutiny, such as the infringement of the applicant’s fundamental rights. The author finds that the cases from the previous article where low standards of irrationality were arguably adopted were, in fact, legitimate according to these chosen methods of evaluation. However, this is an interim conclusion because, for reasons of word length, the author is unable to complete a full assessment here. It is therefore proposed that a subsequent article will continue to examine the constitutionality of these cases. Furthermore, the author will also try and establish a zone of executive decision-making, for reasons of democracy, where the courts are excluded from irrationality review. If the author is unsuccessful in this regard, the final conclusion of this study will inevitably be that low standards of judicial intervention exist without limit—a clear assault on the constitutional principle stated above.

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