Accountability in the Regulatory State

Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 27, Issue 2, June 2000

Posted: 4 Jul 2001

See all articles by Colin Scott

Colin Scott

University College Dublin (UCD)


Accountability has long been both a key theme and a key problem in constitutional scholarship. The centrality of the accountability debates in contemporary political and legal discourse is a product of the difficulty of balancing the autonomy given to those exercising public power with appropriate control. The traditional mechanisms of accountability to Parliament and to the courts are problematic because in a complex administrative state, characterized by widespread delegation of discretion to actors located far from the centre of government, the conception of centralized responsibility upon which traditional accountability mechanisms are based is often fictional. The problems of accountability have been made manifest by the transformations wrought on public administration by the new public management (NPM) revolution which have further fragmented the public sector. In this article it is argued that if public lawyers are to be reconciled to these changes then it will be through recognizing the potential for additional or extended mechanisms of accountability in supplementing or displacing traditional accountability functions. The article identifies and develops two such extended accountability models: interdependence and redundancy.

Suggested Citation

Scott, Colin David, Accountability in the Regulatory State. Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 27, Issue 2, June 2000, Available at SSRN:

Colin David Scott (Contact Author)

University College Dublin (UCD) ( email )

Dublin 4

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