Availabilities:

Location Domestic International
Gold Coast
Lismore
Online

Unit Summary

Unit type

UG Coursework Unit

Credit points

12

AQF level

7

Level of learning

Advanced

Former School/College

Former School of Law and Justice

Unit aim

Studies how the law makes public decision-makers accountable for how they exercise their discretions, powers, and duties. Various control mechanisms - particularly courts, merits appeals tribunals, Ombudsman, Freedom of Information (FoI) and privacy legislation at Commonwealth level - aim at curbing bureaucratic mistakes and excesses, and at ensuring sound, rational, and consistent decision-making by governments.

Unit content

Topic 1: Introduction: The framework of Australian administrative law

  • History
  • The prerogative writs
  • The New Administrative Law reforms
  • Discretions vs rules
  • Judicial review by courts vs merits appeals to tribunals

Topic 2: Judicial review - the basic concepts

  • Merits vs legality/procedure
  • Questions of fact vs questions of law
  • When errors of law 'go to jurisdiction'
  • The constitutional separation of powers
  • The constitutional/prerogative writs
  • What decisions are reviewable under the ADJR Act 1977?
  • Public versus private decision-makers

Topic 3: Judicial review and procedural fairness (natural justice)

  • When is procedural fairness required?
  • The hearing rule
  • The rule against bias
  • Legitimate expectations
  • Private (domestic) associations

Topic 4: Judicial review and statutory authorisation

  • Statutory interpretation and “state of mind” clauses
  • Jurisdictional facts
  • Unauthorised purposes/motives
  • (Ir)relevant considerations
  • Bad faith

Topic 5: Judicial review and the ban on fettering discretion

  • Ministerial/Cabinet policies
  • Following a policy inflexibly
  • Acting under dictation
  • Estoppel by previous promises
  • Contracts

Topic 6: Judicial review for Unreasonableness and "No Evidence"

  • Unreasonableness
  • No evidence

Topic 7: Subordinate (delegated) legislation

  • Role of subordinate (delegated) legislation
  • Legal restrictions
  • Publication
  • Disallowance

Topic 8: Judicial remedies for unlawful government action

  • Consequences of unlawfulness: void vs voidable
  • Mandatory/invalidatory legislative clauses
  • Remedies
  • Discretion to withhold or postpone remedies
  • Failure to carry out a legal duty
  • Ouster clauses

Topic 9: Merits appeals tribunals

  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal and other tribunals
  • Powers and functions
  • Interaction with judicial review
  • Approach to Ministerial/Cabinet policies

Topic 10: Standing for judicial review and merits appeals

  • Rationales for standing (locus standi) as a threshold
  • Common law tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for judicial review
  • Statutory tests for merits appeals
  • Proposals for open standing

Topic 11: Access to information

  • Right to reasons
  • Freedom of information
  • Privacy laws

Topic 12: Other methods of governmental accountability

  • Ombudsman
  • Human rights legislation and anti-discrimination laws
  • Alternative dispute resolution

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

GA1: Intellectual rigour, GA2: Creativity, GA3: Ethical practice, GA4: Knowledge of a discipline, GA5: Lifelong learning, GA6: Communication and social skills, GA7: Cultural competence
On completion of this unit, students should be able to: GA1 GA2 GA3 GA4 GA5 GA6 GA7
1 identify and explain the central principles and the various elements which inform Australia's federal system of administrative law Intellectual rigour Knowledge of a discipline
2 evaluate the differences between review of the lawfulness of a decision, and review of the merits of a decision Intellectual rigour Knowledge of a discipline
3 demonstrate an understanding of the legal and administrative mechanisms by which the actions and decisions of government officials and agencies may be challenged Intellectual rigour Creativity Knowledge of a discipline
4 identify and explain the legal and administrative mechanisms by which government officials and agencies may be rendered accountable for their actions Intellectual rigour Creativity Knowledge of a discipline
5 analyse the legal and administrative consequences of unlawful administrative action Intellectual rigour Creativity Knowledge of a discipline
6 apply the relevant legal principles to identify the remedies available to persons whose interests have been affected by the unlawful exercise of administrative power. Intellectual rigour Creativity Knowledge of a discipline

On completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. identify and explain the central principles and the various elements which inform Australia's federal system of administrative law
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline
  2. evaluate the differences between review of the lawfulness of a decision, and review of the merits of a decision
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the legal and administrative mechanisms by which the actions and decisions of government officials and agencies may be challenged
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA2: Creativity
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline
  4. identify and explain the legal and administrative mechanisms by which government officials and agencies may be rendered accountable for their actions
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA2: Creativity
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline
  5. analyse the legal and administrative consequences of unlawful administrative action
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA2: Creativity
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline
  6. apply the relevant legal principles to identify the remedies available to persons whose interests have been affected by the unlawful exercise of administrative power.
    • GA1: Intellectual rigour
    • GA2: Creativity
    • GA4: Knowledge of a discipline

Prescribed texts

  • No prescribed texts.
Prescribed texts may change in future study periods.