Justifying compensation for frustrated legitimate expectations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


That government agencies and public bodies can be liable for damages when they induce and then frustrate people’s legitimate expectations is an important and distinctive feature of administrative law in Europe. This article sets out to establish a set of moral principles and ideals that might justify this legal institution. The notion of security of expectations found in the work of utilitarian writers provides a starting point. Having examined the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, I then turn to consider an alternative argument based on finding a solution to the problem of credible commitments. Finally, I look for suitable moral arguments in the liberal and Kantian political theorising of John Rawls. I argue that if we see the function of the rule of law as not merely to maximise aggregate utility and to make policymakers’ decisions seem credible but also to ensure Justice as Fairness for individuals, then this provides a more robust and satisfactory way to justify the liability of public bodies for legitimate expectations they induce and then frustrate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-728
Number of pages30
JournalLaw and Philosophy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this