What has Dunsmuir Taught?

  • Alice Woolley
  • Shaun Fluker


In Dunsmuir the Supreme Court of Canada reassessed the “troubling question” of how courts should review decisions of administrative tribunals. The majority judgment of Bastarache and LeBel JJ. (writing also for McLachlin, Abella, and Fish JJ.), sought to simplify the judicial review process by reducing the standards of review from three to two, increasing reliance on precedent to determine which standard is appropriate, making explicit the significance of the nature of the question to the determination of the standard in every case, and re-labelling the “pragmatic and functional” test the “standard of review analysis.” In its recent judgment in Khosa the Supreme Court emphasized the simplifying intention of Dunsmuir, suggesting that “Dunsmuir teaches that judicial review should be less concerned with the formulation of different standards of review and more focused on substance, particularly on the nature of the issue that was before the administrative tribunal under review.”
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