Judicial Responses to Bright Line Rules in Social Security: In Search of Principle

28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2009

See all articles by Emma Laurie

Emma Laurie

University of Southampton - School of Law


This article considers judicial responses to the use of ‘bright line’ rules in social security law. It analyses, within the framework of judicial deference, the receptiveness of the judiciary to an argument by the executive that a rule is justified as being administratively convenient to operate. The article questions the proposition that the judiciary is at its most deferential when complex issues of socio-economic policy or resource allocation are raised in the context of social security law. A contrast is drawn between cases involving an issue of statutory interpretation and those applying a proportionality test. The article tests the presumption that a difference in approach should be discernable in these two situations. It concludes by criticising the courts for failing to articulate clearly the values at stake and by arguing for the need for greater transparency and a broader public debate concerning the use of bright line rules.

Suggested Citation

Laurie, Emma, Judicial Responses to Bright Line Rules in Social Security: In Search of Principle. Modern Law Review, Vol. 72, Issue 3, pp. 384-411, May 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1397769 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.2009.00748.x

Emma Laurie (Contact Author)

University of Southampton - School of Law ( email )

Southampton SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

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