The Scope and Meaning of Reasonableness Review


  • Paul Daly



This article draws attention to the post-Dunsmuir framework regarding the standard of review of administrative action and the Supreme Court of Canada’s reluctance to engage in grand theorizing about the general principles of judicial review. The article explores the uncertainty surrounding the application of the standard of reasonableness and what factors can or should be taken into consideration during its application. The article identifies four key problems — the scope of the post-Dunsmuir framework, the scope of its correctness category, the difficult relationship between the reasons given for a decision and the substantive reasonableness of the decision in question, and the emergence of difficult distinctions bedevilling the application of the reasonableness standard. Through identifying weaknesses in the current administration of reasonableness review, it is hoped that the courts, sooner rather than later, will adopt a unified approach for using the reasonableness standard of review.