The Coherence of the Doctrine of Legitimate Expectations
Cambridge Law Journal, 2014, vol. 73, pp. 61-85
20 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2012 Last revised: 5 Dec 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2013
The doctrine of legitimate expectations is a developing area of administrative law, and many issues remain outstanding, including the grounds of legitimate expectations. Promises, practices, and policies are the recognized grounds of legitimate expectations, but what is special about them? Why do they and only they give rise to legitimate expectations? The lack of an obvious answer has led some commentators to worry that the doctrine is ultimately incoherent. In this paper, we argue, first, that promises, practices, and policies each comprise or make applicable a certain type of rule, and second, that having a legitimate expectation is a matter of such a rule binding a public body to act in some way. This rule-based account provides a unified, economical explanation of the grounds of legitimate expectations that also sets the doctrine on a coherent foundation.
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