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What Can We Legitimately Expect from the State?

Author(s): Greg Weeks

The recognition and enforcement of legitimate expectations by courts has been a striking feature of English law since R v North and East Devon Health Authority; ex parte Coughlan [2001] 3 QB 213. Although the substantive form of legitimate expectation adopted in Coughlan was quickly accepted by English courts and received a generally favourable response from public law scholars, the doctrine of that case has largely been rejected in other common law jurisdictions. The central principles of Coughlan have been rejected by courts in common law jurisdictions outside the UK for a range of reasons, such as incompatibility with local constitutional doctrine, or because they mark an undesirable drift towards merits review. The skeptical and critical reception to Coughlan outside England is a striking contrast to the reception the case received within the UK. This issue warrants the detailed scholarly analysis that it receives in this forthcoming book to be published by Hart.

This chapter considers the promises public authorities make to individuals and how they are received. It examines both the capacity of government to create expectations and the legitimacy of people entertaining firm expectations of government and considers the substantive enforcement of legitimate expectations, when government might be estopped from resiling from its representations and in what circumstances government may be liable for making negligent misrepresentations.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: Administrative Law

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