Designing Administrative Justice

28 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2017

See all articles by Lorne Sossin

Lorne Sossin

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 1, 2016


This study explores the adaptation of design thinking to administrative justice. Design thinking – or human centred design – approaches services and products from the perspective of the user. This perspective too often is missing in the design of administrative tribunals, most of which have been developed top-down to serve the needs of a particular policy interest of the Government of the day.

The notion that administrative tribunals are “designed” for particular goals is not new. Typically, however, discussions of design relate to clarity of statutory mandates, protections of tribunal independence, and the procedures and rules by which a tribunal will function. The design concerns explored in this study arise subsequent to this “legal design” phase, once legislation to establish a tribunal and demarcate its powers has been enacted. It is often at that point that the functional design questions around how the tribunal actually will work come into focus.

This paper is divided into two parts. The first part reviews the development of design thinking in the context of legal services and legal organizations. The second part explores the implications of this development for administrative justice, particularly in the context of the establishment of new tribunals, and situate the evolution of design thinking in administrative justice within broader trends in the common law world. The conclusion examines the criteria which should be applied to determine if the design of a new administrative tribunal is successful.

Suggested Citation

Sossin, Lorne, Designing Administrative Justice (November 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Lorne Sossin (Contact Author)

York University - Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

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