Standards of Review in Irish Administrative Law after Meadows


In a nutshell, the majority of the Court in Meadows v. Minister for Justice held that proportionality would be relevant in determining the reasonableness or unreasonableness of an administrative decision affecting rights. The anxious scrutiny standard of review was not adopted. One member of the majority also introduced an expansive general right to reasons to Irish law.


But the majority of the Court did not make clear precisely how proportionality is supposed to operate in the context of administrative decisions, or to which decisions proportionality will not apply.


In this note, I will begin by explaining the existing standards of review in Irish administrative law and then proceed to critique the decision in Meadows.


I will argue, first, that although the rejection of anxious scrutiny was well-founded, acceptance of it might have forestalled the emergence of other difficulties; secondly, that the Court confused several senses of proportionality; and thirdly, that the approach advocated by Denham J. should ultimately be favoured, although it necessitates the development of some limitation on the scope of the rights to which the proportionality standard would apply. Finally, I will suggest that Murray CJ’s advocacy of a general right to reasons is a welcome development in Irish law.

This content has been updated on May 2, 2023 at 16:20.