Administrative Justice and Empirical Legal Research: Debunking the Ordinary Religion of Legal Instrumentalism

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For many years, most studies on administrative justice were written from a doctrinal legal perspective. More recently, however, administrative justice has also become the subject of a growing body of empirical research. This chapter provides an overview of empirical administrative justice research in three fields: administrative decision-making, redress mechanisms, and the impact of redress mechanisms on administrative practice. In legal doctrine, ‘legal instrumentalism’ has become central to thinking about administrative justice. However, the findings from empirical research provide little support for the underlying assumptions of instrumentalism. In this way, empirical legal research forces us to rethink the relationship between administrative law and administrative justice. The chapter concludes that while in some cases law and legal institutions may be an effective instrument to promote administrative justice in other cases, the direct impact of law is severely limited and law may even have a negative effect on the quality of administrative justice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Administrative Justice
EditorsMarc Hertogh, Richard Kirkham, Robert Thomas, Joe Tomlinson
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190903091
ISBN (Print)9780190903084
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2022

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