Mapping current issues in administrative justice: austerity and the ‘more bureaucratic rationality’ approach

Robert Thomas, Joe Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article critically reviews recent developments in the administrative justice system; in particular, it considers three key themes: improving initial decisions; administrative review; and the future of tribunals. In each of these areas, some aspects of administrative justice work well, but austerity has presented acute challenges in ensuring the fair and just treatment of people through restrictions upon legal aid; the withdrawal of some appeal rights; and the expansion of administrative review. Consequently, the system is moving away from a ‘legal’ model of administrative justice to the ‘bureaucratic rationality’ model, which focuses upon accurate and efficient implementation. However, the reality does not correspond with the goals of the model. Rather than accurate and efficient implementation of policy, what we find is poor decision-making made by junior officials with insufficient quality controls. Digitising tribunals may have potential benefits in terms of increased accessibility. Nonetheless, the prospects for administrative justice are weak.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-399
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sep 2017

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