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The Grammar of Administrative Justice Values

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law
DateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2017
DatePublished (current) - 2017
Issue number4
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)524-537
Early online date31/10/17
Original languageEnglish


The debate concerning administrative justice in the UK often involves reliance upon a certain set of values. Examples of such values include openness, confidentiality, timeliness, transparency, secrecy, fairness, efficiency, accountability, user-friendliness, consistency, participation, rationality and equal treatment. These values are often deployed, both in academic and policy contexts, without much precision. This produces confusion which can hamper debate. This article therefore argues there is a need to reflect on how these oft-used values are deployed, and consider the particular concerns which underlie them. In this sense, this article suggests there is a need to refine the grammar of administrative justice. This argument is demonstrated through an extended analysis of the value of ‘user-friendliness’: a site of emerging disagreement in recent years. It proposes that an important distinction must be drawn between two understandings of the value: the ‘accessibility’ and ‘consumerist’ understandings. This article concludes by suggesting that, going forward, it is important to consider whether the use of abstractions is helpful at all in administrative law and justice debates.

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